The country's tourism sector has been recovering businesses significantly as the number of domestic tourists visiting the major sites increased since their reopening in August this year.
Currently, the tourist spots in Cox's Bazar, Kuakata, Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Bandarban, Khulna region, and Sylhet are most popular among the tourists.
Many hoteliers and resort owners in these areas are offering discounts and the airlines are offering special holiday packages to attract tourists.
Businesses in Cox's Bazar have been gaining momentum as a large number of tourists have been visiting there, especially during the weekend.
Currently, the guest occupancy is 60%-80% on an average of the capacity of the starred hotels in Cox's Bazar, said sources.
There are around 450 hotels, motels and resorts in Cox's Bazar, said people involved in this sector.
"We have been accommodating guests in 95% of our rooms on an average during the last few weeks. Most of our staff members have joined work to serve these guests," said Nizam Uddin Al Sumon, head of sales and marketing of Jol Tarongo, a five-star rest house in Cox's Bazar.
Abdul Quader Mishu, director of five-star hotel Ocean Paradise, said, "On weekends, the demand for our rooms rises to 70-80% of our capacity, but on weekdays it drops to 30%."
Ocean Paradise currently offers the highest of 50% discount for their guests.
Md Redwan, a senior executive of Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort, said, "We are offering around 40-50% discount now. On average, our occupancy rate is 60-65%."
The businesses in Kuakata, the largest tourist site in Barishal region, have not gained the expected momentum, but the hoteliers there hope businesses will recover significantly in the coming season starting from November this year.
Motaleb Sharif, general secretary of Kuakata Hotel-Motel Owners Association, said, "The starred hotels are doing comparatively better than the small establishments. Currently, the average guest presence is around 25%-30% of their capacity."
The tourism sector came to a halt when the government imposed restrictions on visiting the tourist sites on various occasions since March last year to curb the Covid-19 infections.
The government decided to reopen the tourist spots at half of their capacity from 19 August this year.
Hill tracts attract visitors
The number of tourists visiting Bandarban, Rangamati, and Khagrachhari, has increased significantly following the reopening of tourist spots.
Md Moniruzzaman, manager of three-star hotel Hill View in Bandarban, said, "The number of guests at our hotel is satisfying. We are taking bookings till December this year. Almost all of our rooms are booked for October."
He said around 80% of their rooms were occupied by guests in the last two weeks.
The number of people cruising in the lake in Rangamati is also noticeable.
Srijan Bikash Barua, manager at Rangamati Parjatan Corporation, said, "The loss incurred over a long period would not be recovered instantly. However, things have been gradually returning to normal. The number of hotel bookings has increased."
Sylhet haor areas receive huge crowd
A large number of tourists have been visiting the haors, hills, falls, and rivers in Sylhet every day.
The haors, especially the Tanguar haor, are the most popular destination for tourists visiting Sunamganj.
Local people said, nowadays during the holidays so many boats ply in the haors that they find it difficult to move around through it.
A similar situation is also seen in the Ratargul swamp forest in Sylhet.
Samsu Mia, a local boatman, said on Tuesday, "We can earn some money mainly during the monsoon season. But this year, tourists were not allowed to enter Ratargul during the whole monsoon season. However, many tourists have been visiting Ratargul for the last one month. As a result, we are also getting some income."
There are over 500 hotels, motels, and resorts in Sylhet.
Sumat Nuri Jewel, president of the Sylhet Hotel, Motel and Guest House Owners Association, said, "We have lost about Tk3 crore per day over the past one and a half years. Now we are recovering some business, but it has not returned to its previous state."
Tourists flock to the Sundarbans
People have been flocking to the Sundarbans and the Shat Gambuj (Sixty Dome) Mosque in Khulna division since the lockdown was lifted.
"Around 9,000 tourists came to visit the Shat Gambuj Mosque in the last two months," said Mohammad Zayed, custodian of the Bagerhat Museum.
Since the government allowed travellers to enter the Sundarbans from 1 September, around 6,000 tourists visited the mangrove forest, said sources at the Forest Department.
Airlines offer holiday packages for Cox's Bazar
Novoair is currently operating six flights from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar daily. These flights carry passengers at 80% of their capacity, said Mes-bah-Ul Islam, head of marketing at the airline.
The airline has also announced attractive holiday packages for the tourists visiting Cox's Bazar.
The passengers can enjoy a Cox's Bazar tour with a Novoair package starting from Tk1,900 per month per person on EMI. These packages include airfare and hotel stay, transportation to and from hotel and airport, and free breakfast, said the airline.
The airline has partnered with twenty leading private banks and eight luxurious hotels at Cox's Bazar.
Meanwhile, Kamrul Islam, general manager (public relations) of US-Bangla Airlines, said they have announced special holiday packages for tourists going from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar.
The airline has also started operating flights to Cox's Bazar four days a week from 1 October to meet the travellers' demand.
[The Business Standard Sylhet, Rangamati, and Bagerhat district correspondents have contributed to this report.]