Sundarbans, the world largest mangrove forest covers a total area of 100,000 hectares and located in the deltas of south west of Bangladesh. The Sundarbans covers 4.2% of total land area and 44% of total forestland area in Bangladesh. It is a globally significant ecosystem rich with biodiversity that provides a habitat for around 334 plants and 375 animal species including the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger, ferocious estuarine crocodile, lots of beautiful bird species and different beneficial and recreational fish 210 species. Bangladesh is small country, but it has conceived too many places, which could attract the tourist. Due to lack of proper management and planning these places are not attracting the tourists. The Sundarbans has an immense value for its unique ecosystem as well as magnificent scenic beauty. The mangrove vegetation, tigers, crocodile spotted deer and diverse bird life are an attractive destination for such tours. Sundarban is a nature's school for the Eco-tourists. Though Bengal Tiger is the flagship species of this unique mangrove Forest, it also offers many other wonders of the nature to the visitors. Seeing a Bengal tiger in this 4200 sq km of dense mangroves, where visitors have only access to waterways has a chance of one in thousands.
The   Eco-­‐Tourism   Development   and   Management   Plan   advise   on   legislation,   tourism   practices,   structural   changes,   training   and   facilities   requirements,   environmental   impact,   and   marketing   and   promotion   strategies.   It   will   contribute   to   the   development   of   a   healthy,   responsible   and   sustainable   type   of   eco-­‐tourism   for   the   benefit   of   all.  

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Sundarbans Suitable for Ecotourism:

Sundarbans is very suitable for ecotourism as it has an immense value for its unique ecosystem as well as magnificent scenic beauty. The mangrove vegetation, tigers, crocodiles, spotted deer and diverse bird life are an attractive destination for such tours. Eco-tourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and teaming new ways to live on the earth. It is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Tourism is a good choice of using natural resources in a productive way. For Ecotourism impacts such as geological exposure, water resources, vegetation, wildlife, landscape and cultural environment has been considered. The economy of the southern region of Bangladesh is highly dependent on Sundarbans. Ecotourism being a conservation process by itself has a great potential to contribute to the economy, which further could safeguard the Sundarbans. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water reuse, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of ecotourism. As the Sundarbans is deteriorating rapidly for various reasons and some peoples want to stay more closely to the nature, they want their development in a ecological friendly way. In the Sundarbans area presently peoples are realizing the ecological development in each and every activity for the long run sustainable development to persist the Sundarbans and other natural resources pollution or hazard free.

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Ecotourist Structures which could be made:
Ecotourists structures are necessary for the tourists. These structures if not managed and built properly, can damage the forest. Only limited number of structures could be made for the tourists and should be ecological friendly. Resorts can be made keeping in mind that it doesn’t hamper the nature. Resorts need to be kept neat and clean and the environment inside and around the resort should be humble and pleasant. Natural materials like woods and bamboo can be used to make the resorts so that it complements its surroundings. Natural materials like wood and bamboo are also very be eco-friendly. made for the Floating houses can tourists so that the nature lover tourists can ride on the boat as well as enjoy the pleasure of staying at the resort. Fig. Rest house (made of wood) Bird watching centers could be built for the bird lovers. Stargazing towers could be made so that the tourist can look up in the sky and enjoy the stars at night. Small local markets can be set away from the forest so that the tourists can buy local handicrafts. This would not only promote tourism but also provide money for the local people.

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Information about the forests and the kind of flora and fauna that could be found in a specific part of the forest can be written on the boards made up of brick and cement. Directions could be shown in the same way so that the tourists don’t get lost in the forests. These should be made of cement and brick so that these don’t rot, break down or gets torn apart.

Fig. Structure built for resting/relaxing/stargazing

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Involvement of the Local Communities in the Tourism Sector:
Involvement of the local people in the tourism sector is very important. They know the forest like no other and they care about the forest like no other. They earn their living from the forest. They worship the forest like a Goddess. One of the conditions of the ecotourism is to involve local people so that they are benefited from the development and activities that take place. The local people can be involved in various ways in the tourism sector. They can be given alternative livelihood opportunities. People living in close proximity of the Sundarbans reserve forest are most likely depending on its resources to meet many of their daily need. Around 60% of the people living in the forest depend on forest resources. As the number of people increases the demand for resources also increase which leads to resource depletion and unsustainable practices like over fishing or cutting of the trees for firewood and other purposes. Here sustainability of resource extraction is considered from the viewpoint of natural regeneration rate of forest resources. To maintain the long-term productivity of these resources, the residents of the study area have to decrease their rate of dependency on the forest resources. For this reason it is necessary to relocate the occupational group, who are mostly dependent on forest resources, its alternative jobs, which are not related to the degradation of forest resources. The people of Sundarban could be asked or advised to do something else for their living. They could do: • • • • Poultry farming Cattle and goat farming Agriculture Day labor (Earth work, work in the brick field and rickshaw pulling) Fig. Cattle farming
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• • • • • •

Handicrafts Shrimp and Prawn farming Hand made paper bag Net weaving Fruit and vegetable’s cultivation Tourism (Guiding, organizing shows, translators etc)

Fig. Shrimp cultivation

They could be involved in the tourism sector by organizing cultural shows, which would include drama, ethnic dance, ethnic songs, and different kind of ethnic games for the tourists. The local people can be trained properly so that they can speak English and translate the drama, songs from Bengali to English. They should be encouraged to make handicrafts that reflect their culture and tradition, as most of the tourists are very interested in their livelihood, culture and tradition. They take the handicrafts back home as souvenirs. So, in a way this is a publicity medium for the tourism sector.

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Ecotourists in the Sundarbans:
Tourism is a rapidly growing activity in many third world countries. It is expected to be the largest income-generating source for the countries. During the time of reduced performance in the export sector, countries have encourages tourism as a source of quickly earning exchange, which is vital for their development. Bangladesh has many places that could attract tourists. The Sundarbans is globally significant for its rich biodiversity of plants and animal species including the famous Royal Bengal Tiger, and estuarine crocodiles. The purposes of ecotourism is to educate the traveler or ecotourist, to provide funding for ecological conservation, and to directly benefit the economic development as well as political empowerment of local communities. An ecotourist can be a person from any demographic group, of any age, sex, race, and religion; and someone who is willing to pay more for ecologically the sustainable the products and services. In Sundarbans, ecotourists may be local or national, and foreign or international. To be more precise, Bangladeshis who are interested in the Sundarbans can be potential ecotourists. Alongside, there are many researchers and students studying about the Sundarbans mangrove forest, who may also be considered as important ecotourists as they will be educated further about the natural resources, local communities, flora and fauna, and endangered species of the forest. At present, the number of international ecotourists in the Sundarbans is comparatively low, whereas the number of local ecotourists and tourists is increasing day by day. Many ecologists, researchers, and ecotourists around the world are interested in the Sundarbans mangrove forest, and they will be a good source of earning foreign currency for the national economy.
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Ecotourism Promotion/Marketing of the Sundarbans:
Promotion and advertising plays a significant role in establishing a product/service in the marketplace. As such, it is important that Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation should have a marketing unit to promote the tourist attractions like the Sundarbans. Brochures and other promotional material could be distributed through all foreign missions in Bangladesh, through Bangladesh Biman, the national carrier. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs may play an important role in paving the way for additional responsibility on the part of Bangladesh missions to do tourism promotion/marketing. Participation in international tourism fairs, publication of features and advertisements in trade journals will enable the country to promote ecotourism of the Sundarbans. However, only by putting in a serious effort in promotion will Bangladesh start to be seen as an ecotourism destination. Thus, the Sundarbans, UNESCO declared World heritage site would be noticeable. It is important that besides completely opening up the Sundarbans for ecotourism, major initiatives are taken by the hospitability providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water reuse, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of ecotourism. Assistance is required from tourist companies as well as the government. Alongside the infrastructure should be developed, so when ecotourists visit the Sundarbans their visit purposes will be fulfilled. It has been analyzed that most of the foreigner tourists have a curiosity about the village people to see their lifestyle, socio-economic condition. They want to visit any village around the Sundarbans so that they can see the Sundarban dependent people. They want to take something from the Sundarbans as souvenirs, like different types of handicraft work that clearly portray the image of the Sundarbans. It is also important to provide educational and interpretation facilities to the tourists. These areas should be given priority to ensure that the tourists and also the local people are benefitted.

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Therefore, the most effective strategies to promote ecotourism in the Sundarbans are – • • • • • • Participating in international fairs Providing package tours, which are of good quality and of minimal price Publicizing the country by creating attractive websites and exhibition booths Advertizing on radio, television, magazines (local and international), and posters Starting internal ecotourism alongside attracting foreign ecotourists Improving public facilities, and developing ecologically friendly infrastructures

The practices of ecotourism and green productivity should be a part of the tourism development strategy for Bangladesh, especially for the Sundarbans, as it will ensure that the ecological balance is not threatened or degraded. In general, tourists visiting unknown and developing countries like Bangladesh are concerned about food, disease, infection, inconvenience, language barriers, safety and security and so on. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that this negative image have to be addressed by the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, the Government, NGOs and private organizers through participating in international fairs, seminars and workshops, as well as through advertizing and publicity campaigns.

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Sundarbans Tour operator scheme:
The following is an example of a tour operator scheme – Business name: X.Y – Sundarban Tours Business type: Tour Operator and Guide Address: X, Road # 23, Sundarban Khulna, Bangladesh Town: Khulna Region: South-western Bangladesh Postcode: 9100 Telephone number: +880 xxxxxxxxxx Email: Website: Statement: X.Y – Sundarban Tours mission is to support a sustainable tourism ensuring conservation of natural resources, reducing costs through efficiencies and staff awareness, fulfilling customer expectations, and providing a remarkable experience in the Sundarbans mangrove forest.  

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The following is an exemplary advertisement/tour operator scheme that could be used to attract ecotourists to the Sundarbans –

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If a person is to visit Bangladesh, a visit to the Sundarban mangrove forest is a must. It is not only the world’s largest single block of mangrove, but also is very rich in its biodiversity. So, besides looking out for the famous Royal Bengal Tiger, the ecotourists can keep an eye out for the magnificent birds species, reptiles and river dolphins. There are many tour operators, but very few specialize as eco-tour guides. This sub-field of tourism is yet to be fully executed in Bangladesh. Nonetheless, as described in the report, following different promotional/marketing strategies will enable the Sundarbans to be recognized worldwide as an ecotourist site. Besides this, the local people of Sundarbans are very important for the economy as well as for the tourism sector. This is because they are highly dependent on the natural resources of the forest for their livelihood. Their activities and businesses can act as tourist entertainment and so on. Finally, as the Sundarbans at present contains many endangered species, it is important to promote the site in such a manner that is sustainable, and will help conserve the remains of the mangrove forest and ensure that the ecotourists have an educational and exciting experience. Sustainable ecotourism is when it:
• • • • • • • • • • • •

Benefits the environment by conserving resources Reduces waste Reduces costs through efficiencies and staff awareness Fulfils customers expectations of businesses to look after their environment Attracts new potential customers Improves public image of site and country Improves the experience of ecotourists Improves the quality of the service provided Benefits the local community Supports the local economy Reduces congestion and pollution Enhances the natural environment

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(n.d.).  Retrieved  from  Biodiversity  Day  2001: 1/Eco%20Tourism.htm   Afroze,  R.  (n.d.).  Ecotourism  and  Green  Productivity  in  Bangladesh.  Retrieved  from  http://www.apo-­‐   Md.  Sahin  Iqball,  M.  S.  (2010).  ECOTOURISM  IN  THE  SUNDARBANS  AND  ITS  SURROUNDING  –  A  POSSIBLE   SUSTAINABLE  OPTION  FOR  ALTERNATIVE  LIVELIHOOD  DEVELOPMENT.  Retrieved  from   bdresearchpublications:   Sundarban  Biosphere  Reserve.  (n.d.).  Retrieved  from  sundarbanbiosphere:    

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