The Covid-19 pandemic has confronted the hospitality industry with an unprecedented challenge. All luxury hotels, especially five-star ones, are still trying to turn around with their businesses introducing a new strategy.
There are 17 five-star hotels across the country. Among them, only Sea Pearl Beach Resort and Spa Limited has managed to register growth in its revenue in the second quarter of fiscal 2020-21, while others are still reeling.
Sea Pearl, situated at Inani in Cox's Bazar, reported a 52% year-on-year growth with a revenue of Tk23.63 crore in the second quarter of this fiscal year. Its revenue dropped by 78% in the April-June quarter in the last fiscal year due to the 66-day countrywide shutdown.
Md Azaharul Mamun, company secretary of Sea Pearl, told The Business Standard, "Our hotel has a larger area than other hotels in Cox's Bazar have. Besides, ours is also far from a chaotic environment in the town. That is why our resort is the first choice among guests. But, we did not receive any foreign guests because of the pandemic. Still, our occupancy rate is more than 80%."
"We have taken a new strategy in terms of health safety at the pandemic time. When guests arrive at the airport, we escort them with proper sanitisation and take them to the hotel. If any guest is found with Covid-19 symptoms, we have a quarantine facility for them."
The situation is not that rosy for other hotels in Cox's Bazar.
Seagull Hotel's Reservation Supervisor Robiul Islam Sohan said, "We reopened in August last year. After that, our occupancy rate was 50-70%. But in December, our occupancy rate came down to below 50% after the coronavirus second wave hit. Only on holidays, we receive a good number of guests."
But in Dhaka, all the five-star hotels failed to return to the pre-pandemic level and posted negative growth in the second quarter this fiscal year.
Westin Hotel witnessed 69% year-on-year negative growth with Tk18.50 crore in revenue in the October-December quarter last year, which was 91% in the April-June quarter in the same year.
Janealam Shawon, director of Westin Hotel, said, "The present situation is better than in the previous quarter. Now, our occupancy rate is around 25%."
He said, "We have taken a new strategy to attract guests as per Marriott guidelines. We hope the recovery rate will be better in the upcoming quarter."
InterContinental, another five-star hotel owned by the government, posted 67% negative growth with a revenue of Tk12.93 crore in the second quarter of the current fiscal year.
According to the tourism ministry, others five-star hotels are Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel, Hotel Sarina Ltd, Le Meridien Dhaka, Doreen Hotels and Resorts Ltd, Renaissance Hotel Gulshan, Ocean Paradise Hotel, Sayeman Beach Resort Ltd, Radisson Blu Bay View, Grand Sultan, Momo Inn Limited of Bogra and Hotel Zabeer Paradise Limited of Jashore.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the hotel and restaurant sector posted a 7.28% growth in the fiscal 2018-19. The figure was 7.13% in the previous fiscal year.
The business size of the sector was Tk7,300 crore in the fiscal 2018-19, according to the BBS.
The international hotel chains, which are expanding business in Bangladesh, include Hotel Sheraton, Holiday Inn, JW Marriott, Swissotel, Hyatt Regency, Element Hotel, Saint Regis Hotel, Hilton Hotel, and Dusit Hotel. But they could not open businesses in due time for the coronavirus outbreak.
Unique Hotel and Resorts, Premier Hotel Management Company, Bengal Hotels & Resorts Limited, Marium group, Union Limited, Peninsula Chittagong ink deal with these international hotel chains to operate businesses and invested more than Tk6,000 crore.