The hospitality and tourism sectors struggle as the coronavirus outbreak deals a severe blow to their business
The InterContinental Dhaka, previously known as the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel, shuttered several operations on Sunday and sent a portion of staffers on leave.
The hotel – a popular accommodation for foreigners travelling to Bangladesh – also asked its permanent employees to take due leaves as coronavirus has greatly affected the country's hospitality sector.
Contractual employees of the hotel worry about payment during leave and reappointment after the situation improves.
The luxury facility employs more than 400 people and is currently struggling with its daily operation as booking and events have dipped due to the global coronavirus outbreak.
Its permanent staffers will receive their payments according to the employment codes, said a human resource official.
He said the temporary or call-on employees, who usually get salaries in line with the hours worked, would be called back once the coronavirus situation was over.
More than 100 temporary employees work at the hotel, and only 12 of them were on duty in three shifts on Sunday while the rest do not even know whether they have their jobs.
They are worried over reappointment though the hotel calls it a "leave adjustment".
Another 150 call-on employees of the five-star Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel Dhaka are also worried about their jobs.
"We had to close 30 percent of our operations, but we did not fire anyone. Neither do we have such plans," Said Mohammad Alamgir, managing director of the hotel.
The 284-room hotel employs more than 500 people. It recently got the bookings for 100 suites cancelled as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his entourages postponed the Dhaka visit over Bangabandhu's birth centenary celebrations.
Like InterContinental Dhaka and Pan Pacific Sonargaon, all the 17 five-star hotels in the country are struggling to maintain their daily operations.
More than 5,000 people work at these hotels, one fourth of them on call-on basis.
"We do not have anything to do as the coronavirus outbreak is a global issue. Most of our rooms are empty since the last two days. The employees were sent on leave," said Shahid Hamid, executive director of the Dhaka Regency Hotel and Resort.
The 250-room hotel employs more than 380 people.
Shahid said the present leave of the permanent staff would be adjusted with annual vacations.
"The temporary staff will also be called back," he added.
In the meantime, employees of a five-star hotel in Dhaka complained about forced and unpaid leave.
On condition of anonymity, an official of the hotel said the authorities had told them to enjoy leave until everything returned to normalcy.
"Many of my colleagues have been sent on unpaid forced leave," he added.
The hotel has more than 550 staffers and 304 rooms.
It said its occupancy rate dropped more than 60 percent recently.
Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden, The Westin Dhaka and Renaissance Dhaka Gulshan Hotel have 380, 550 and 350 employees respectively.
Staffers of the foreigner guest-based hotels have been passing idle time as 70-80 percent of the rooms remain empty.
Tour operators worried too
The Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh fears a more devastating impact on their business than the five star-hotels do.
It said nearly five lakh jobs under the platform of 700 operators are in limbo.
Coronavirus impacts have brought grim future for the sector, said its President Md Rafiuzzaman.
He said the association had to halt the Bangladesh Travel and Tourism Fair scheduled for April 3-5 in Dhaka.
The event has been postponed until October, he added.