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Coronavirus: Upscale Dhaka hotels lose reservations, revenue

  • Published at 05:47 pm March 13th, 2020
Hotels
Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

'The number of visitors from both home and abroad has fallen'

Many upscale hotels in Dhaka are incurring a significant amount of revenue loss as foreign visitors are cancelling their tours amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Moreover, as more and more countries issue travel bans in a bid to fight the deadly virus, many of the high-profile events, where international guests were invited, are being called off thus making things worse for the hotel industry.

Meanwhile, turning public fears into reality, Bangladesh confirmed its first three patients of Covid-19 on Sunday that has killed over 5,000 people in more than 120 nations.  

According to market insiders, despite March being the peak business time for the country's hospitality industry, number of reservations and occupancies in most of the five-star hotels in the capital has fallen dramatically due to the virus.

Sadia Saica Fareea, assistant communication manager of InterContinental Dhaka, told Dhaka Tribune that the Covid-19 crisis has impacted on the whole hospitality industry as several, both international and domestic, events have been postponed. 

"The number of visitors from both home and abroad has fallen. Last month's revenue has also dropped considerably in comparison to last year."

“There are mixed reasons behind the postponement. Not only coronavirus is behind the situation, but other reasons also include not coordinating with the schedule of chief guests and others,” she said.

When asked about whether she can share how much loss the hotel has suffered till now and how they are planning to cope up with the crisis, she said: "We cannot tell the actual amount of fall in revenue as it has only been one and a half months since the outbreak. We are expecting things to get better in April, provided the current situation improves."

Seeking anonymity, an official of the marketing department of the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka, said: "An executive of marketing department at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka said told the Dhaka Tribune that the occupancy in accommodation has fallen down to 40% where it was 50% in January this year."

"Most of our room, event, and venue bookings for March have already been cancelled and this is likely to continue."

However, when contacted, authorities of Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden, Le Méridien Dhaka and The Westin Dhaka refused to comment over the matter.

HM Hakim Ali, president of Bangladesh International Hotel Association (BIHA) also chief of Hotel Agrabad in Chittagong could not be reached over the phone despite repeated attempts.

A similar picture outside Dhaka

Similarly, hotels outside the capital are also struggling with the cancelation of reservations and bookings forced by the global spread of Covid-19.

Hotel owners In Cox's Bazar, Sylhet and Chittagong are finding it very difficult to maintain their revenue projections as the number of travellers, with every passing day, is decreasing out of fear of getting infected with the deadly virus.  

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Mukim Khan, general secretary of Kolatoli-Marine Drive Hotel Resort Owner's Association, said: "Bookings and occupancies here have dropped by more than 50%. 

"Those who wanted to come to Cox's Bazar from March 26 to March 28 have already cancelled their plans as they are in panic and afraid because of the coronavirus outbreak."

Echoing the same, Naim Hossain Rabbi, human resource manager of Sylhet's Hotel Rose View, said: "We are facing around 40% decline in reservations. Foreign tourists, buying house representatives, and NGO officials who were our guests for this month have already backed out of their plans due to the outbreak. 

"The events which were supposed take place here in March and the following month have also been cancelled."

CEO of Hotel Grand Surma in Sylhet, Emran Hossain, said: "Coronavirus has deeply affected the hospitality business here. Things are getting cancelled regularly."

When contacted, expressing concerns, Kamal Hossain, manager (sales, marketing) of The Peninsula Chittagong, said: "As airlines have stopped operating flights from a number of destination and on-arrival visas are not being issued at the moment, the hospitality business here is going through a tough time." 

Rahsat Salma, public relations officer of Radisson Blu Chittagong Bay View, said: "The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has had a very negative impact on the hotel industry in Chittagong. This has greatly hampered our business."

To control the spread of coronavirus the Bangladesh government has restricted entry of passengers from four countries - Italy, South Korea, Japan and Kuwait – without the virus-free medical certificates.

Issuance of on-arrival visas for Chinese nationals was suspended on February 1 and the directive is still in effect.

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