Domestic tourism in Chittagong Hill Tracts areas has been hurt by the recent heavy rain and landslides, with hotels and resorts suffering from low occupancy.
Hotel reservations in Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachari remain very low even during this peak season ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr vacation with tourists nervous about further natural disasters.
Hotel owners and tour operators attribute the fall of their tourism business to the natural disasters.
Despite the fact that Cox’s Bazar hoteliers have got some advanced bookings, the Sundarbans-based tour operators say they have very little or none.
No tour boats are out on the rivers to visit the Sundarbans from the capital’s Sadarghat port as the operators did not get a single early booking.
Every year, domestic tourism gets momentum ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, but this year is an exception.
Hotel owners are not satisfied with whatever early bookings they have got so far, as many rooms are still vacant.
A Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) official Mohammad Hossain Masum said after the recent landslides in the hill areas, all bookings had been cancelled, but after resumption of public transportation day before on Saturday, hotels are getting few and far between bookings.
Not only Parjatan Corporation, most hotel bookings in the districts had been cancelled.
“Though there were no landslide in the Bandarbana, the recent events sent shock waves among tourists who have refrained from venturing there,” said Zakir Hossain, Holiday Inn owner in the district.
The tour operator, Excellence Asia’s CEO, Tito Siddique, said landslides affected the tourists in hill tracts areas very badly as road communication was shut due to heavy rain.
“While tourists come to visit Cox’s Bazar, they buy a package that includes either Rangamati or Bandarban, but because of the landslides, many travellers have already cancelled their Cox’s Bazar trip during Eid holidays,” he added.
Talking about last year’s tourism business, Tasbiha Alam, reservation supervisor, Hotel Coxtoday, said: “This year’s hospitality business is not satisfactory since room occupancy is very low.
“If we compare our business with last year, this is not good enough, but we hope the situation might get better at the last moment.”
According to Syed Yameenul Huq, head of marketing and sales, Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort, the resort has managed to get enough booking during this peak season.
“Our resort at Inani is a little far from Cox’s Bazar main beach. So tourists turn up here comparatively less than other hotels,” he added.
The Sundarbans-based tour operators have called off their tourism package as the weather is deterring holidaymakers from planning a trip to the mangrove regions.
According to Masud Hossain, managing director, Bengal Tours Limited: “Nobody has made an enquiry about the Sundarbans even though last year business was booming.”
Tour Planners Limited Managing Director Faridul Haque said: “The situation is quite reverse this year. As there is no booking, no tour operator will float any pleasure boat for the Sundarbans.”
Though hospitality business is on the downswing in the hill districts and Sundarbans, situation is normal in Sylhet region. Most hoteliers have got enough bookings ahead of Eid holidays.
Grand Sultan Hotel and Resort General Manager Arman Khan said: “Our advanced bookings are good enough. Most of the hotel rooms have been reserved a long time ago for the Eid vacation.”