Similar to developing countries, the luxury tourism market is expanding in Bangladesh with growing demand from those looking for individual and exclusive holiday experiences, according to industry insiders.
Over the past decade, more than 50 luxury hotels and resorts have contributed significantly to the country’s tourism sector, they added.
Syed Rashidul Hasan, professor of hospitality and tourism in Dhaka University, told The Independent: “There is no actual figure, but the contribution of luxury tourism to the domestic tourism market is less than 5 per cent at present.”
There are luxury hotels and resorts in almost every tourist destination. Also, luxury air-conditioned ships were introduced recently on sea routes, Hasan said.
“Luxury tourism will expand in future for those who can afford to seek comfort,” he added.
“However, luxury tourism does not mean the availability of five-star hotels and resorts in tourism spots. Tourists have to be provided with developed services keeping nature intact,” he said.
There are 15 hotels and resorts in Cox’s Bazar, the country’s tourism capital, which may meet the standard of five-star hotels. While Kuakata has one luxury hotel, Khulna has two, Sylhet has two five-star hotels and two resorts, Habiganj one, and Moulvibazar has a five-star resort and one golf resort.
These places do not come cheap as a tourist has to spend at least Tk 9,000 each day only as accommodation charge. Tourists may even have to spend as much as Tk 52,000 each day, depending on the area.
Other than these, Saint Martin’s Island has two three-star hotels, while Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari districts have two resorts each.
For sea-bound tourists, two luxury air-conditioned ships have been launched on the Teknaf-Saint Martin’s route. Another three of these have been added to the Sundarbans route. One of these ships is fully air-conditioned.
Head of the sales and marketing department at Sayeman Beach Resort, Mohammad Imran Humayun Khan, said: “Tourists seek comfort these days. Their tastes have developed along with their spending capacity. So, many of them now choose good hotels and good food.”
If the country’s luxury tourism sector is properly developed, domestic tourists will choose to spend holidays in the country rather than flying off to international destinations, he added.
Dr Md Nasir Uddin, chairman of the Bangladesh Tourism Board, said: “Tourists have two options. They can choose either budgetary or luxury services. The number of luxury tourists has been rising gradually over the past few years. We hope that the market will expand further in future.”
Sources said Orion Development Consortium, along with its operating partner Pan Pacific Hotels Group, is set to develop a luxury tourism resort and entertainment village in Cox’s Bazar with an estimated investment of USD 119 million under the public–private partnership (PPP) framework.
According to the civil aviation and tourism ministry, the development came after a government decision in 2013 to set up a tourism village at the site of Parjatan Holiday Complex in Cox’s Bazar with a view to transforming the beach town into a world-class tourist destination.
Subsequently, a consulting firm was given the task of conducting a feasibility study, which has already been completed.
Cox’s Bazar saw 1.58 million visitors in 2013. This number is expected to grow to seven million by 2024, according to the feasibility study. There are opportunities for an indoor marine park and aquarium, which can be clubbed with any medium- to high- density tourism driver and luxury hospitality concept.
According to the study, an amusement park, cultural centre, convention centre, a golf club and a luxury hotel can be built on the 98-acre land.
The study recommended a luxury seaside resort with 400–500 guestrooms spread over an area of 17 acres. The guestrooms would be located in a multi-storied building as well as water villas, garden villas, long-stay villas.
The project cost has been estimated to be USD 80 million.
The amusement park consisting of 22 rides can be set up on 15 acres of land. About USD 12 million will be invested in the park over a period of three years.
A cultural centre, which is an untested product in Bangladesh, can be developed at the tourism village. It would have an amphitheatre for cultural shows, a wax museum, an ethnic resort and a cultural village, spanning an area of 15 acres. The project cost has been estimated to be about USD 10 million.
With only a few resorts offering golf services, golf can be a differentiator for commanding premium.
In a research report titled “Tourism de Luxe”, MC Dagnaux and N Granjon analysed the luxury tourism sector in France and wrote: “An estimated 15.7 per cent of the French population, or 8.7 million people, can be described as ‘elitist’ in that they provide the demand for top of the range tourist products.”
The report assessed the demand generated by travellers using tour operators, tourists taking cruises, independent travellers, and the agencies and associations concerned with luxury tourist products.
Luxury tourism consumers tend to be wealthy, middle aged or old, and city dwellers. Sixty-five per cent consumers travel singly or as a couple, take short holidays and avoid summer crowds.
The report used two models designed to examine the consumer-purchasing behaviour of non-tourist products in order to understand the behaviour of “luxury” tourists. The discussion focused on sociological variables such as culture, social context, and social status; personality variables such as place of residence, profession, lifestyle, education and personality type; cognitive variables; and psychological variables such as motivations, inhibitions and fears. It then focused on the supply aspects of this sector.
The report also discussed French tour operators in this sphere and examined the distinguishing features of the range of tourist products, including price and brand names.
It went on to discuss the nature of luxury destinations and regions in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Morocco, Yemen, Scotland, Norway, Austria and Switzerland. It then examined the distinguishing elements of tourism products, including transport, accommodation and leisure activities.
Following an overview of the distribution and promotion of luxury tourism, the report assessed the future prospects for the sector.