Jashore's hotel industry is expecting a boom in the coming years and local business leaders are anticipating that the sector will lead investment in the district.
Jashore is at the heart of south-west Bangladesh and dictates a number of communication and commercial routes. It also has a hi-tech park targeting the Khulna division. Businessmen are counting on these features to attract big investors.
They are also looking to take a sizable share of the economic growth the upcoming Padma Bridge is expected to trigger in the south. Furthermore, Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority Executive Chairman earlier hinted at two economic zones being set up in Jashore.
Jashore's growing hotel sector might be able to provide accommodation for the rising number of investors and project professionals in the region – and open doors for mega projects in the district, according to businessmen.
Mizanur Rahman Khan, former president of the Jashore Chamber of Commerce and Industry said two high-end hotels established in Jashore city within the last two years have significantly impacted dynamics of the investment-stricken district.
Except for these two hotels – Zabeer Hotel International and Hotel Orion International – no major private investment has taken place in the district in the last two decades. They are the only ones of their kind in the country's south-west.
Due to this, Mizanur is optimistic that luxury hotels can help improve the district's economy, which has high infrastructure-potential.
It has Benapole – the country's biggest land port – a bustling domestic airport and the Noapara river port. The airport transports 800 passengers every day – to-and-from the capital Dhaka – via twenty flights.
Jahsore also has the Bhomra land port and highway connectivity through 18 routes. Additionally, there is the Mongla seaport at the nearby Bagerhat district.
These commercial entrypoints already draw a number of entrepreneurs and high-ranking government officials to the district. Instead of Khulna, many of them now hold meetings and seminars in Jashore – and spend the night there – after stopping in different south-western districts.
Along with the district's prospective future, its improving hotel facilities could help motivate investors to contribute directly to its economy, Mizanur added.
Sazzadur Rahman Suja, Hotel Orion owner and former vice-president of Jassore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Jashore has all the credentials to become the third-most important commercial destination of Bangladesh – after Chattogram and Narayanganj.
It just needs government support to contribute to the domestic economy and drive up demand for its hotel business, he added.
Hotel Orion, at present rated a three-star hotel, relaunched on New Year's Eve with upgraded services, worth Tk40 crore. The 15-storeyed facility stands on 4.5 bighas of land and hosts 121 rooms.
At present, Zabeer Hotel International is the only other hotel with international level services in the country's south-west. The hotel won the 2019 South Asian Travel Award for its quality meals.
Shahin Chakladar, general secretary of Jashore Awami League and owner of the hotel, said despite robust transportation facilities the district had no quality hotels until recently.
Built on 24-decimals of land, for Tk30 crore, the hotel now hosts numerous meetings and seminars that were difficult to arrange before. The main building is 16-storeyed with 96 rooms that have daily rates ranging between Tk5 and Tk9 thousand.
The high-end hotel chiefly hosts people from: the USA, India, the Netherlands, and Japan. As foreigners usually come for their professional engagements in Khulna, a completed-Padma Bridge could draw more visitors, Shahin said.
There are two more hotels in Jashore that the city businessmen take pride in. Of these, Hotel Hasan International used to be the only quality hotel in the district.
Established in 2003 on 10 kathas of land, Hotel Hasan has 62 rooms with hotel rates starting at Tk1,200. Hotel City Plaza International was established on 42-deicmals of land, in 2014, with 50 rooms.
The last entry on the list – the 40 room-Hotel Magpie – was established in 1995 as the most modern hotel in the region, but it has lost its lustre as investments have fallen. Now with two five-star hotels arriving in quick succession, investment in the sector is booming – having set the stage for similar inflow in other fields.