The last few months were a blessing for resort owners as the Covid-19-induced restrictions on travelling abroad and the first nationwide lockdown last year raised people's hopes for a breath of fresh air in the ambience of natural serenity within the country.
Guest occupancy at the resorts in the country was 60-70% till mid-March this year as people had become weary of living a monotonous life in urban regions and craved a change.
Those hopes have, however, now hit a snag. Resorts have lost at least 25% of advance bookings this month due to the fresh weeklong lockdown coming into force.
Almost no resort is now accepting guests though the authorities have not specifically barred hotels and resorts from receiving guests.
In such a situation, the Tourism Resort Industries Association of Bangladesh sent a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 5 April appealing to be allowed to continue their operations with 50% occupancy.
"Our resort is open, but there is no guest now due to the lockdown. Our guest occupancy fell to 10-15% last week from 40-45% on average as virus cases surged," said Abul Hossain Aabir, head of sales at Chhuti resort in Gazipur's Joydebpur.
The resort reopened on 25 July last year and offered a 50% discount to attract guests. But now there is no discount.
Aabir mentioned that guest occupancy at his resort was 60-70% last winter.
Sarah Resort, designed with luxury facilities in Gazipur's Bhawal Rajbari, is not receiving guests amid the lockdown.
Its Manager (public relations) Ismail Hossain said, "People are unable to go abroad for travelling purposes. That is why we had more guests than we expected in the last few months, especially during weekends."
He said the resort would be open for guests again after the lockdown.
Nokkhottrobari, one of the first among the Gazipur resorts, is not permitting guests at present.
Mehedi Hasan, its Assistant Manager, said, "We had a good business in the last two months with 50% occupancy on average. But our guests cancelled a good number of advance bookings that had been made for this month."
"I know of another resort which has lost bookings of around Tk90 lakh due to the lockdown," he added.
Mehedi Hasan noted that guests at his resort were not declining in number amid the rising coronavirus cases, but the ongoing lockdown had mainly been responsible for business losses.
The resort still has not granted mandatory leave to more than 50 of its staffers for reasons of maintenance.
Among the districts in the country, Gazipur has the maximum number of resorts. There are 76 registered and several non-registered resorts in the district, according to the district administration.
The Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation says there are over 200 resorts in the country, especially in regions near the capital, including Gazipur, Narayanganj and Narsingdi.
The resorts began reopening after the withdrawal of the general holidays on 31 May last year, with operators claiming they were maintaining health guidelines and following standard operating procedures formulated by the Bangladesh Tourism Board.
Typically, resorts in Bangladesh have both daylong and night-stay packages. However, some resorts discourage daylong tours in order to avoid crowds amid the pandemic.
Located on the bank of the River Shitalakshya, La Reveria resort in Purbachal offers Tk2,900 daylong packages for each person.
"We received 70-80 guests under daylong packages in the last few months, especially on weekends. We have 13 cottages that can accommodate 26 guests under night-stay packages," said Sara, customer executive of La Reveria.
The resort is not permitting guests during the lockdown.
Narail's Arunima Resort Golf Club resumed operations on 1 June last year. It has 40 cottages, but operations have been suspended since early this week.
Khabir Uddin Ahmed, chairman of the resort, said, "We had 40% guest occupancy on average after reopening. Occupancy declined to 30% after the new wave of Covid-19 began."
"There has been investment of around Tk20,000 crore in the resort industry, including land and infrastructure. If we do not operate our business, thousands of staffers would lose jobs," said Khabir, who is also the president of the Tourism Resort Industries Association of Bangladesh.
The resort industry started to grow in Bangladesh in the last decade. Resort owners said corporate groups, professionals and couples were their main guests.
According to the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, the total market size of the resort industry is around Tk3,000 crore. The sector has generated direct as well as indirect employment for at least five lakh people.