Let us enjoy a direct touch with nature, culture and people. The sound created by joy, excitement and refreshment can only be found in tourism, a source of direct contact with nature, diversity of life and civilization of past and present. Tourism provides us with refreshment, well being and knowledge: it refines our sense and sensibility. Besides being a great source of enjoyment, tourism also enriches national economy and creates new job opportunities. Indeed, tourism is a ‘Cure to All’.
Tourism, in our country, is either an institution or an industry, whatever it is doesn’t matter much, demands addressing of problems regarding tourist spots and also requires best and befitting solutions to drawbacks. Among various setbacks, Bangladesh needs to fix its mindset first, whether she wants to improve her tourism or not, unlike our neighboring countries there is still room to expand and develop tourism further in Bangladesh. Thailand, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Bhutan, Srilanka and Maldives, we assume, have achieved tremendous success in tourism industry. Whereas, regarding tourism, Bangladesh can still strive to achieve greater prospects, the GDP, which is around 2% to 4.4% since 1972 to 2018, still has potential for improving. With that target she hopes that she could trigger its tourism GDP to around 7% by 2025 and it is not impossible, study says. To speak the truth, she can even do better than that if she takes necessary pragmatic and calculated measures in tourism industry promotion.
Now, my purpose is to focus on the panoramic natural spots suffering from ailments demanding comprehensive solutions. This writing is my first hand demand based on experiences gathered visiting a number of mind blowing beautiful natural tourist spots across our loving Motherland. While travelling some spots in Bangladesh, I’ve heard the beautiful spots of mother nature crying for better treatment and royal dressing up, if, they cry for, impossible, provide us with a minimum facilities. Since liberation, our tourism sector, still today logically, demands a lot of pragmatic and justified actions to be implemented.
You’re right. Yes, there are some lucrative, highly expensive hotels, motels and bungalows in the district towns, divisional towns and in thana level, even. Moreover, there are also some middle class and lower class hotels but these are not sufficient enough to serve the purpose of local tourists, let alone fulfil the needs and demands of foreigners. Among a number of local tourists, majority cannot avail of hotels and motels lying in the divisional cities and towns. Besides that other than a few exceptions, most of them are situated farther away from tourist spots.
Indeed, what we demand is infrastructural development around lucrative tourist spots, to the least possible extent if major overhauls are beyond our reach. On the other hand, it is imperative to keep in mind that whenever development is taking place, overall planning of the location must be done after taking into consideration of the entire city or town or locality. In this way future developments won’t require the demolition of already existing infrastructure when plans are made comprehending the future. We have to bear in mind that in no way are we allowed to damage the beauty of nature while developing the infrastructure in a planned way. We can encourage PPP, NGOS and Local people living around the scenic spot to ensure benevolent tourist services in exchange of logical monetary exchange, including hygienic washrooms.
Home sharing, homemade hygienic light and heavy food that local people can manage to produce for the tourists in many ways and thus create a scope for local economy to flourish can be welcomed.
A disconcerting reality regarding the above mentioned services is that most of the panoramic tourist spots in our country do not have these. Suppose you are a newly married couple or a family group travelling to Sylhet. From a residential hotel in district town at dawn you have started for Zaflong, Lala khal, Ratargul and so on. After a hectic journey you reach the targeted spots. You are enjoying a beautiful and exciting time, 2 or 3 hours have passed by and you are hungry, the food that you brought along on your journey are finished and your young children have become exhausted, they need healthy and nutritious meal. But if you search for a similar thing, your efforts would be in vain, you have to remain hungry. Besides, if you need to answer nature’s call, as a male you can relieve yourself by a tree or some other way maintaining poor privacy. On the other hand, you may be helpless with your female members who need to use a toilet on emergency basis, you may not find a better solution, and there is no alternative except hilly crack or jungle, where other people are also trekking to avail the chance. Can you imagine the situation?
My humble suggestion is that our tourism authority should set up washrooms, restaurants, residential hotels and fast food shops. In fact, regarding this the authorities concerned should invite local entrepreneurs, NGOS and others to provide with regional facility based maximum solutions. Even the people living close to the tourist areas, tea garden authorities, law enforcement authorities and other different social clubs can easily come forward to solve the problems faced by the tourists.
The citizens can share the facilities of their homes, provide food and washroom access in exchange of mutually beneficial arrangements. Same thing may go with the others.
Indeed, in every respect high security should be put on top priority. Besides, almost all the tourist spots are often besieged by petty rogues who lay in ambush to target tourists. They are to be controlled by policing round the clock and at the same time secured transport is essential for enhancing tourism friendly atmosphere. Easy, quick and comfortable vehicles need to be ensured for smooth movement. Better roads connecting tourist spots must be constructed and the ones that are already in place must be well maintained. Our government, I hope, in near future could be taking mega projects to ensure best and befitting infrastructure development both in hills, greeneries and water centric tourists spots. For better tourist entertainment, besides sightseeing, regional art and cultural presentation management may be another focal point that represents our national history, beautiful demography and tradition. Inquisitive travellers love them most. I hope our authorities concerned will take the matter into their consideration.
Finally, I should say tourist spot based medical care and medication must be ensured. This is because, while hiking in the hills, passing through deep foliage on foot to the rocky stream and swimming in the water, you may become a victim of unwanted incidents or accidents. So you need medical help either primary or emergency basis. Tourists, from home and abroad, love having medical facilities available at their disposal.
However, at present our government, tourism department and concerned others should address the emergency demands of the tourists, both from home and abroad, and must manage them to facilitate the tourist spots with sheds, shelters, washrooms, hotels and restaurants adjacent to the tourist areas so that the travellers, visitors and tourists may pass and enjoy their holidays meaningfully.
Success in all the beautiful tourist spots could be triggered by our local and national economy as well: it will be a mammoth undertaking for
Shaakir Ahmed is a poet, columnist and a teacher working at Mirpur Bangla Higher Secondary School, Department of English