Business at luxury hotels in Chattogram has fallen sharply due to concerns over the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
Guests have been cancelling bookings every day since the outbreak started, and hotels have witnessed a 50 to 60 percent slump in businesses.
Industry sources told The Business Standard that the number of guests working in sectors such as garments manufacturing, buying houses, non-government organisations and import-export industries has dropped at an alarming rate.
Furthermore, the number of events such as meetings, programmes and seminars related to businesses have also gone down. Also, significantly fewer people are now having lunch or dinner at luxury hotels in the port city.
The star-rated hotels in Chattogram are Radisson Blu, Peninsula, Best Western Alliance, Hotel Agrabad, Well Park and Saint Martin.
There are around 600 rooms in total at these hotels. Under normal circumstances, guests – most of whom are foreigners – book around 70 to 80 percent of them. But since the outbreak, the hotel business has shrunk by more than 60 percent.
On Wednesday, only around 180 rooms of the six hotels were booked, and among them, 50 were booked by foreigners, according to the hotels' management.
Responding to a query, Bangladesh International Hotel Association's Executive Member Abdul Koium Chowdhury said, "There are very few foreign guests now, not only at the luxury hotels in Chattogram, but also at other international standard hotels across the country, including the ones in Dhaka.
"Bookings are being cancelled every day. Fear over the coronavirus has badly damaged the tourism sector of the country. There are no foreign visitors in tourist spots throughout the country, and the hotels are empty."
Industry sources said the star-rated hotels in Chattogram will have to count monthly losses amounting to Tk10 crore to Tk15 crore if the situation does not improve soon. Some of these hotels, especially mid-range ones, are already concerned about paying the salaries and wages of their employees and staff.
The only 5-star hotel in the port city, Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View, has 241 rooms. The hotel usually has 60 percent of its rooms booked, but that has now dropped to 30-40 percent.
Radisson Hotel said most of their guests are foreigners, but their numbers dwindled after the coronavirus outbreak began. The number of new bookings has also gone down.
Sources said a significant number of bookings are being cancelled every day at the Hotel Peninsula because foreign guests are no longer coming to the country. Around 60 percent of the guests at the Peninsula used to be foreigners, but that dropped to 30 percent following the outbreak.
Bookings of around 100 rooms were cancelled in the last three days alone. Twelve bookings for events in March have also been cancelled. Business has shrunk 30-35 percent.
A hotel official told The Business Standard, "Our hotel depends on foreign guests. But guests from the garment sector and buying houses are not coming anymore."
In the Best Western Alliance, around 5-8 bookings are being cancelled every day, and the hotel presently has no foreign guests.
The hotel's Managing Director Mamunur Rashid said, "The coronavirus outbreak has hit our business hard, and it might collapse if this situation continues. We are no longer getting bookings for social and commercial events. No new foreigners are coming in."
Hotel Agrabad, a star-rated hotel in Chattogram's commercial area, experienced a fall of 40 to 50 percent in its business. The number of business-related events and commercial programmes has dropped. Hotel business has shrunk by 40-50 percent.
Hotel Well Park, which is in the port city's GEC area, is also facing a sharp fall in bookings, and no new bookings are being made by foreigners.
The hotel's Marketing Manager Mamun Al Rashid said, "Following the coronavirus outbreak, the business started experiencing a slump. But after a few infected patients were identified in the country, it all went downhill."
Not just star-rated hotels, even mid-range ones have been impacted by the outbreak. People from all corners of the country used to come to Chattogram's port and the Khatunganj areas for business. They usually stayed in mid-range hotels in the port city.
However, the number of people visiting Chattogram has decreased.
Kamrul Alam, the general manager of Hotel Lord's Inn said, "Our business has shrunk by 70 to 80 percent. So far, 20 bookings have been cancelled."
The general secretary of the Bangladesh Hotel and Guest House Owners Association, James Babu Hajra, said that the hotel industry is on the verge of a collapse because of cancellation of bookings every day, and the low number of new bookings due to the coronavirus outbreak.