Experts at a workshop have said that Bangladesh has huge potential in the underwater tourism sector. The country can earn millions of revenue through underwater tourism if the sector is promoted properly.
Alongside the Bay of Bengal, many rivers and waterbodies, including Sundarbans, Kaptai Lake and Piyain River, should be used properly for the purpose of underwater tourism. The authorities concerned as well as the government should take integrated initiative in this regard.
Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) and Save Our Sea, a non-government platform working to protect the Bay, jointly arranged the day-long workshop titled ‘Eco-tourism Development’ for journalists at Parjatan Bhaban at Agargaon in Dhaka on Sunday (November 14).
The experts at the workshop focused on different issues that have potentials for the tourism sector of Bangladesh. They also called for eco-
friendly tourist activities to save the ecology, biodiversity and local heritage. The authorities concerned should develop a strong legal framework to boost the sector and save the ecology, while awareness is necessary about the negative impact of irresponsible tourism, they opined.
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Jabed Ahmed, chief executive officer (CEO) of BTB, Dr Santus Kumar Deb, chairman of Tourism and Hospitality Management Department of Dhaka University, Dr Mohammad Muslem Uddin Munna, chairman of Oceanography Department of Chittagong University, Abu Tahir Muhammad Zaber, director (marketing, planning & public relation) of BTB, SM Atiqur Rahman, ocean explorer and director of Save Our Sea, and Muhammad Anowarul Hoque, general secretary of Save Our Sea, spoke at the event, among others.
Md Burhan Uddin, assistant director (international relation & PR) of Bangladesh Tourism Board, moderated the event.
In his speech, Jabed Ahmed said that about four lakh foreign tourists used to visit Bangladesh every year.
Emphasising on eco-friendly tourism, he said that tourism can play a vital role in the socio-economic development of Bangladesh. Against this backdrop, the people involved with tourism activities as well as the tourists and tour operators have a responsibility to protect biodiversity and ecology for building sustainable tourism. Alongside the conservation of ecology and biodiversity, the tourism potential of the country should be placed before the world.
The BTB CEO said that strong policy support and legal framework can flourish the tourism sector. The media can play a vital role in the development of eco-tourism and underwater tourism. The BTB is committed to have a long-term engagement with the media for the betterment of the sector, he added.
Dr Santus Kumar Deb emphasised on pollution-free tourism to boost the sector like European countries. He said that eco-tourism will help achieve the SDGs goals. He also spoke on the potential of underwater tourism.
Dr Muslem Uddin Munna said that there are huge prospects for ocean-oriented tourism and everyone has the responsibility to protect the ecological environment under the ocean water.
He also spoke about mangroves, coastal biodiversity, ecosystems, marine animals and birds. He said that Bangladesh is yet to grab the full potential of the blue economy ranging from the sustainable development of marine fisheries to sea and coastal tourism. The country should exploit the potentials in the Bay and can too make its economy stronger through eco-tourism development, he added.
Abu Tahir Mohammad Zaber spoke on the role of the BTB in the development of the tourism sector. He informed that they are formulating a total of 27 guidelines aiming to make the tourism in Bangladesh stand on an effective and long-term basis. They are also working to expand tourism in rural areas.
The BTB director said that the Tourism Board has initiated a mega plan to build up a sustainable tourism sector in the country.
SM Atiqur Rahman spoke about the huge potential of Scuba diving and underwater tourism in Bangladesh. He said that Scuba diving can open a new horizon of maritime based tourism in the country.
Muhammad Anowarul Hoque highlighted various aspects of how journalists should cover the environment, eco-tourism, coastal tourism or underwater tourism, or how to report in this sector.