• Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Three-day weekend a boon for tourism

Suman Saha

The tourism industry has seen a sharp uptick in business this weekend thanks to the Janmashtami, a Hindu religious festival, falling on Sunday to make it a long weekend.
“We are very happy as most tourist spots are buzzing with people,” said Taufiq Uddin Ahmed, president of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh.
Most hotels and resorts in popular holiday destinations such as Cox's Bazar, Rangamati, Bandarban and Sylhet have registered full occupancy for August 15-17, he added.
The stable political climate meant most people were in the mood this time to take off for the three-day weekend, said Mohiuddin Khan Khokon, director of sales and marketing at Hotel The Cox Today, which is fully booked for the weekend.
Take, Ziaur Rahman, a senior officer of a private bank, for instance. He has taken the opportunity to visit Bandarban and Rangamati with six friends.
“We are very pleased to see the beauty of hill tracts,” he said by phone, adding that the incessant rains somewhat dampened their spirits.
“It is great that the three-day weekend coincided with the ideal time to take in the natural beauty of the hill district,” said Sultan Nafis Mahmud, general manager of Hotel Hill View, a popular hotel in Bandarban.


The 72-room hotel is running on 70 percent occupancy this weekend.
The high occupancy, even if it is for just three days, comes as a relief to the sector, which has been hit hard last year by the political turmoil and the poor road conditions in general.
Dilapidated roads, especially on the Dhaka-Cox's Bazar, Rangamati and Bandarban routes, have significantly affected domestic tourism, said Ahmed, adding that a traveller has to spend 18-20 hours on the road to get to Cox's Bazar from Dhaka by road at present.
As a result, a large number of people now go abroad on holiday, Ahmed said.
This weekend though will go some way towards recovering some of the losses suffered in the previous season, many hoteliers say.
For instance, Hotel The Cox Today stands to earn more than Tk 10 lakh in room tariffs a day if all of its 276 rooms are occupied, according to Khokon.
Travel and tourism contributed Tk 22,260 crore, or 2.1 percent, to the country's gross domestic product last year. Its contribution is expected to rise 7.7 percent to Tk 23,980 crore this year, World Travel and Tourism Council said in its latest study.
Spending by local tourists is expected to grow by 7 percent year-on-year in 2014 to Tk 39,670 crore, according to the London-based research organisation.

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, August 17, 2014

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