DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN)
Dhaka is set to welcome half a dozen international hotel chains over the next couple of years, brought about by the growing influx of business travellers to Bangladesh.
“The economy is expanding and so is the number of guests,” said Md Jashim Uddin, vice-chairman of Bengal Group of Industries, which is constructing a 370-room hotel in the capital’s Niketan area for about BDT 600 crore.
The property will be managed by Swiss hotel chain Swissôtel Hotels and Resorts. “We want to make the ultimate business hotel, which we do not have in the city yet,” he added.
Bengal is not the only local business group pouring in funds to expand the capital’s luxury hotel landscape; Jamuna, Marium and Premier are entering the fray too.
New business opportunities have come up for construction of large infrastructure projects such as the Padma bridge, Rooppur nuclear power plant, metro rail and LNG terminals.
At the same time, the flow of business travellers related to the export-oriented garment industry is set to get bigger as the apparel makers chase an export target of $50 billion in 2021.
Altogether, the new hotels are expected to bring forth investment of about BDT 5,400 crore, according to industry insiders and a banker.
Marium Group is establishing a 200-room hotel in Hatirjheel area for about BDT 1,500 crore. The property will be christened the Holiday Inn Dhaka City Centre and is expected to open its doors to guests by the end of this year.
“There is a huge demand for luxury hotels. In fact, it is more than the supply in the city,” said Alam Ahmed, managing director of Holiday Inn.
Jamuna Group has struck a deal with Marriott International, the American luxury hospitality chain, to set up the 700-room JW Marriott Dhaka. The hotel will be located at Jamuna Future Park in Progoti Sarani. Premier Group is building JW Marriott’s sister brand Courtyard by Marriot in the capital’s Gulshan area. Unique Group, the parent company of Westin Dhaka, is establishing Sheraton Dhaka in Banani, while Lakeshore Hotels has teamed up with Thai hospitality group Dusit International to set up a business hotel in Uttara for BDT 150 crore.
Once all the under-construction properties become operational, the total supply of upscale hotel rooms in Dhaka will more than double to 3,000 from existing 1,250, according to industry operators.
The new entrants will also drive up competition, and possibly lower the room tariffs, said MA Awal, director of sales and marketing of Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka.
He went on to state that the supply is growing faster than the demand. Al-Amin, director of sales and marketing of The Westin Dhaka, differs in opinion.
“The room rates in upscale hotels in Dhaka are high, which reflects the solid demand,” he added.
Shahidus Sadeque, director of marketing and business promotion of InterContinental Dhaka, which is expected to resume welcoming visitors later this year, has a similar position. The economy grew steadily in the last five-six years, but the number of international hotels has not increased to that extent, he said.
“Our market is under-supplied. We have only half a dozen of international hotel brands whereas Kolkata has more than a dozen of such hotels,” he added.
At present, five international hotel chains are serving in Dhaka: Marriott International’s brands Westin and Le Meridien, Radisson, Pan Pacific and Amari.
About 3.1 million visited Bangladesh in the last six years and the average occupancy rate in the upscale hotels in Dhaka is 60-70 percent, according to Syed Mehran Hussain, manager marketing of Four Points by Sheraton, which began operations last year. “And the number is increasing day by day. With the rise of visitors, the number of star-hotels is also increasing.”