Managing director of Dream Holiday Park, Prabir Kumar Saha, said that before the coronavirus outbreak, there would be at least 25,000 visitors to the park every day during the Eid break. Crowds would throng the park, located in Chaitab of Narsingdi sadar upazila, but now it lies vacant. Prabir Saha said, “We have to spend Tk 1.7 million (Tk 17 lakh) on wages every month. There is an ansar camp in front of the park for which we have to pay Tk 500,000 per month. Then there is the maintenance cost of the rides. The two Eids are our main sources of revenue, but this time too that is shut.”
Just as amusement parks are in great demand during the two Eids, it is also ‘super peak time’ for the hotels in the Cox’s Bazar seaside town. This is the best time of the year for the tourism business there. The next peak time is in December to March. March to November is considered ‘off peak time.’
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, during this ‘super peak time’, there would not be a single vacancy in the 35-room Hotel Rain View, said Mukim Khan, the managing director of this two-star hotel. He said, “Our daily revenue would be anything between Tk 80,000 to Tk 100,000. In the 10 to 12 days before and after Eid, we had no vacancies. But that business is no more.”
Mukim Khan is the general secretary of the Marine Drive Hotel Resort Owners Association. He said, There are 450 hotels, motels and resorts in Cox’s Bazar town and other 300,000 people involved in the tourism industry. The hotels shut down from 26 March last year when restrictions were imposed in the form of a general holiday. They reopened on 17 August last year. Then business shut down again from 5 April this year. There was no Eid in the time that the hotels were open so they lost out on the super peak time business.
General secretary of the Cox’s Hotel-Motel-Resort-Guesthouse Owners Association, Abul Kasem Sikder, said during Eid around 70,000 to 80,000 people flock to this town every day. This bring in revenue of around Tk 1 billion (Tk 100 crore). Yet this time not a paisa was earned. The hotel business is facing losses of around Tk 100 billion due to the restrictions.
A tourism locale is more than just hotels and restaurants. Cox’s Bazar, for instance, has shell trade, seaside stalls, rickshaws, small shops and so much more. All this constitutes the tourism business of the place.
Superintendent of the tourism police (administration and finance), Sardar Nurul Amin, told Prothom Alo, tourism is counting massive losses. There is no doubt about that.
Losses this Eid
President of the Tourism Resort Industries Association of Bangladesh (TRIAB) Kabir Uddin Ahmed estimates that the losses this season in the sector will be around Tk 2.5 billion to Tk 3 billion (Tk 250 crore to Tk 300 crore). Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation has around 21 motels in different places around the country. These are all now counting losses every day. In the 2021 fiscal, losses amounted to Tk 107 million (Tk 10 crore 70 lakh), said the Parjatan Corporation general manager (commerce) Md Shahidul Islam Bhuiyan. He told Prothom Alo, Parjatan Corporation’s losses over the two Eids has been almost Tk 30 million (Tk 3 crore). Overall the tourism sector of the country has faced around Tk 2.5 billion (Tk 250 crore) in losses.
There are 60 hotels in Rangamati town of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Kaptai Lake is the biggest attraction of the area and it has around 200 boats. That is big business in itself. Thousands of people arrive at the town every day during Eid, said general secretary of the hotels owners association Moinuddin Selim. He said around Tk 50 million (Tk 5 crore) is generated in revenue during Eid, but the town has been deprived of that this time.
There are around 100 establishments involved in the Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB). The former first vice president of the association, Md Masud Hossain, said that before the outbreak of coronavirus, during Eid each company would have transactions of around Tk 1.5 million to Tk 2 million (Tk 15 lakh to Tk 20 lakh). So this Eid the losses are an estimated Tk 200 million (Tk 20 crore).
Head of Bengal Tours, Masud Hossain, however said that actually the number of foreign tourists had fallen since the attack on Holey Artisan. They coronavirus has taken losses to a height.
Bangladesh Bank on 15 July lessened interest on loans to 8 per cent so that the wages and allowances of the employees off the hotels, theme parks and other establishments in the tourism sector could be paid. The government will pay four per cent of this and the clients will have to pay the remaining 4 per cent. While welcoming this package, TRIAB president Kabir Uddin Ahmed pointed to the complications involved in availing the bank loan. Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said, “A similar package was offered earlier too, but was not effective as the loan process was too complicated. The banks do not consider hotels and resorts to be profitable. They should remember, none of us come from the streets. We return the loans that we take.”
* This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir