AKM Moinuddin, UNB Staff Writer
Dhaka, Apr 29 – Bangladesh wants to promote the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove and a Unesco world heritage site, working together with India and promote cross-border tourism keeping the environment unhurt.
An official at the Civil Aviation Ministry said the cooperation between the two countries in tourism sector was discussed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s April 7-10 visit.“Both leaders shared the view that enhanced air connectivity between the two countries will boost people to people contacts as well as promote greater tourism, trade and investment flows,” he said quoting the joint statement.
“We’re willing to work to further promote this Unesco heritage site. Bangladesh and India can work together in this regard,” a senior Bangladesh government official has said. He said there is scope to boost tourism both on Bangladesh and Indian sides by working together.
“There’re two types of beauty in the Sundarbans on Bangladesh and Indian sides. Tourists can see both sides’ beauty though journeys through the Sundarbans,” Director of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (Toab) Taufiq Rahman said.
Rahman, also the founder Chief Executive of Journey Plus, said Bangladesh and India recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and standard operating procedures (SOPs) on passenger and cruise services on coastal and protocol routes which will help boost the tourism.
Tourists arrivals remain relatively low in the Sundarbans due to the difficult access, arranging transport and a lack of facilities, including suitable accommodation, according to the industry insiders.
Asked, the tourism expert said, “We don’t want mass tourism in the Sundarbans. It’ll be pointless if we destroy the beauty of the Sundarbans through mass tourism.”
He also suggested the authorities to set a carriage capacity in the Sundarbans to keep such journeys specialized ones and help keep the Sundarbans unhurt. “We must protect the Sundarbans.”
Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry officials said some 65 percent of the Sundarbans is on Bangladesh side and the remaining 35 percent on Indian side.
According to Unesco document, the area is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species, the Bengal tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python.
Talking about overall flow of foreign tourists in Bangladesh, Rahman, also secretary general of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Bangladesh Chapter, said since the beginning of the current year tourist-flow has been increasing.
He, however, depicted a gloomy picture that they saw in 2016 and mentioned that the tourists now understand that security problem over terrorism threats is a global problem. “So, tourists now keep on coming.”
The tourism expert said Bangladesh is yet to project its potential abroad, and Bangladesh missions abroad should act seriously to let people around the world know better about positive Bangladesh and its tourism potentials.
Earlier, global tourism expert Alain St. Ange told UNB that Bangladesh is in one of the most diverse regions and its tourism industry can and should grow.
All around the world, people need to understand that tourism is not just the hotels; it concerns the whole country and all its infrastructure: from airports, to roads, cleanliness and revamping of touristic attractions, he said.
“A lovely country like Bangladesh could work towards a concerted effort to ensure tourism takes its rightful place and benefit every Bangladeshi,” said Alain Ange.
AKM Moinuddin, UNB Staff Writer