Hotel Industry loose Tk 2,500 crore due to Covid-19 pandemic.

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Tourism industry in Bangladesh, like other countries in the world, has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with its international standard hotel sector, a vital organ of the tourism industry, suffering the most. To re-claim the failing sector, Bangladesh International Hotel Association (BIHA) has come up with their six-point recommendations calling upon both the public and private concerns to come forward in order to sway the imminent disaster. The BIHA leaders made public these recommendations, at a press conference held at an elite hotel in city at 11 a.m. this morning, and sought the Prime Minister’s hand to save the distraught sector and save the lives of more than 310,000 people and their families who depend on this sector.
BIHA President HM Hakim Ali gave a welcome speech at the beginning of the press conference. Mr. Khaled-ur-Rahaman Sany, Co-Chairman of BIHA Disaster Management Committee then delivered the keynote address. Highlighting the importance of the tourism industry in the country’s economy, in his speech he said, the sector’s contribution to GDP is 4.4 per cent, which we, working as a supportive force of the government, are willing to elevate this to a double digit figure. However, the unforeseen corona pandemic appeared as a sudden blow in our face that has already caused a severe loss of about Tk 2,500 crore in the sector. If this situation continues, the loss of the hotels in Bangladesh will exceed Tk 7,000 crore by the end of this very year.
The number of boarders in most of the hotels has come down to 2-3 percent, which is the lowest in recorded history. Many hotels have been shut down. It is simply not possible for the hotels to conduct their regular operational activities under the current situation. According to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), more than 310,000 hotel workers and employees in Bangladesh are at risk of becoming unemployed as a result of the corona pandemic. Nonetheless, tourism industry is also important in the implementation of Vision-2021 and Vision-2041 of our honorable Prime Minister with the aim to building a digital Bangladesh. It also involves the country’s image, international relations and the national economy.
As a last resort to overcome this gridlock, we seek the ‘Exclusive Package for the Hospitality Industry’ and the direct intervention of the government to save this sector. The special fund announced earlier by the government to support the garment industry has earned a lot of praise and brought hope to the people. We are also keen to save the hotel and tourism industry which has always played a glorious role for the steady growth of our economy.
To this end, I hereby present before you the six recommendations that we have made for the kind consideration of the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
1. Waiver on dividends / interest on existing loans against international standard residential hotels and other hotels and resorts in Bangladesh, from March, 2020 to December, 2020 and revival of current installments from next June, 2021 as well as fixing all dividends / interest before the start of the installment.
2. Allocate Tk 30,000 crore under the government-announced incentive package for the worst-affected hotels and resort businesses at a dividend / interest rate of 9% (4% of which is for the businesses and 5% for the government) payable within a duration of 3 (three) years keeping a grace period of 1 (one) year and the next two years for the re-paying.
3. To provide Tk 500 crore from the government’s own funds to the hotel employees who have been forced to stay at home during the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic which is to be disbursed among them directly on the basis of their monthly salary or through their business organization.
4. Exemption of all utility bills e.g. electric / WASA and gas bills of residential hotels from March, 2020 to December, 2020.
5. Exemption of holding tax of residential hotels and resorts under city corporations and municipalities till 2020-2021.
6. Exemption of tax deduction from the salaries of officers and employees of residential hotels and resorts.
Mr Rahaman also said, we are seeking the intervention of the government to save the hotel sector from imminent doom by ensuring speedy implementation of these recommendations at this time of emergency. We hope Bangabandhu’s Sonar Bangla will be able to stand on its own feet soon alleviating the ongoing disaster under the bold leadership of the current government.
A lively question-answer session was held followed by the key-note speech. BIHA leaders answered to various questions of the journalists. In there, it came to the fore that even though the Covid-19 doctors and health workers were recently kept in different hotels at the call of the government, the huge amount of money due as its rent is still unpaid. As a result, the hotels have become more fragile. More than three lakh workers with commendable experience at the professional level dependent on this sector has been pushed towards at greater risk.
The panel of the BIHA leaders who gave answers to the media queries includes, among others, Mr. HM Hakim Ali, President, BIHA and CEO, Hotel Agrabad; Lt. Gen. Sabbir Ahmed (Rtd), MD, Sena Hotel Development Ltd owning company Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden & Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View; Mr. Asif Ahmed, Executive Assistant Manager, Finance, Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka; Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, MD, Long Beach Hotel; Mr. Khaledur Rahaman Sany, MD, Golden Tulip The Grandmark- Dhaka; Mr. Kazi Tareq Shams, MD, Lakeshore Hotel Gulshan;; Mr. ATM Saidul Alam, MD, Hotel la Vinci Ltd; Mr. Azeem Shah, GM, Renaissance Dhaka Gulshan Hotel; Mr. Shakawath Hossain, CEO, Unique Hotel & Resorts Limited owning company of The Westin Dhaka & HANSA;. The press meet came to a close with an endearing closing speech made by BIHA President HM Hakim Ali.

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