The Daily Star/ANN
Domestic airlines and hotels in Cox's Bazar are seeing a spike in occupancy as government officials, human rights activists and development workers travel to the beach town in the wake of influx of Rohingya refugees.
“We are witnessing a higher number of foreign guests nowadays because of the Rohingya crisis,” said Aminul Haque Shamim, managing director of Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort.
Between the last week of August and Sept. 24, about 436,000 Rohingyas have entered the Bangladesh territory from Myanmar's Rakhine state in the face of persecution, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
While the influx of Rohingyas had slowed somewhat in the last few days, thousands have started pouring into Bangladesh again.
For hotel operators in Cox's Bazar, September typically is the last month of the lean season for them. But because of the unfortunate event in Myanmar they were seeing good occupancy during this off season.
“The overall occupancy has increased in our resort,” said Rezaul Karim, general manager of Albatross Resort at Cox's Bazar, citing that the average daily occupancy rate shot to 70 percent from 40 percent a month ago.
“We have been registering increased number of guests for the last ten days. People come to distribute relief and return after staying a night,” he added.
Sarowar Hasan, sales manager of Long Beach Hotel, said the daily average occupancy in the high-end hotel rose to 75 percent from nearly 50 percent the previous month.
“We see that officials of UN agencies and NGOs are coming in throngs. Booking for October is also high as those who are coming have been staying a bit longer to take part in relief operations,” he said.
Airlines are also getting a slice of the increased traffic movement to Cox's Bazar. “Movement has increased since the beginning of the Rohingya crisis,” said AKM Mahfuzul Alam, senior manager of marketing and sales at Novo Air. The carrier, which operates two daily flights on the Dhaka-Cox's Bazar-Dhaka route, is seeing 90-92 percent load factor from 80 percent earlier.
“The number of government and UN officials as well as journalists has risen. Generally, we see a spiral in traffic flow from Thursday to Sunday. Now, we see increased traffic during the remaining days of the week as well,” he added.
However, none of the airlines have increased their capacities. Besides the two daily flights of Novo, three other carriers Biman, Regent and US-Bangla Airlines, operate flights to Cox's Bazar from Dhaka every day.
The movement of people to give relief has also increased by road, said Md Kamrul Islam, deputy general manager of marketing support and public relation of US-Bangla Airlines.