শুক্রবার, ১৯ জুলাই ২০২৪, ০১:৩৫ পূর্বাহ্ন




Tourism yet to flourish in CHT despite huge potential

আউটলুকবাংলা রিপোর্ট
  • প্রকাশের সময় : রবিবার, ১২ ফেব্রুয়ারী, ২০২৩ ১২:৫৮ am
হাওর বুক Tourism ভ্রমণ পর্যটন ট্রাভেল ট্যুরিজম Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation haour Rangamati Hill District Hanging Bridge Kaptai Lake রাঙামাটি পর্যটন
file pic

Despite having a huge potential, the tourism industry has not boomed yet in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) as per expectations due to various reasons, including inadequate infrastructure, lack of security and high cost.

Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) has so far identified a dozen prospects in the hill regions such as eco-tourism, adventure tourism, riverine tourism, sustainable tourism and experiential tourism.

But inadequate infrastructure, lack of coordination, security and transportation, unplanned development, limited excess to exploration, high cost and bureaucratic tangles have marred tourism prospects.

Besides, tourists are avoiding the hill regions while the investors of the areas are suffering loss due to a lack of sightseers even during the tourism season.

The tourism sector contributes 3.02 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Bangladesh and also accounts for 8.07 per cent of total employments.

Though Cox’s Bazar and Kuakata see large crowds even during the off season, reviving the tourism industry remains a challenge in the hill districts.

Industry insiders said if tourism sector is developed in a planned way with the involvement of local community, infrastructure is developed in line with the demand of tourists, communication is established across the whole country and cost is minimised, the hill regions will turn into more attractive spots.

Tourism prospects in hill regions

The hill regions are endowed with an immense treasure of natural beauty. There are hills, forests, rivers, archaeological sites, religious places, waterfalls, tea gardens in the regions. The scenery of hills, rivers, people of different ethnic communities, their lifestyle as well as their rich and diverse heritages are really original and natural.

Green forest, cloud-touching wavy hills and diverse lifestyles make the Chittagong Hill Tracts more attractive. Language, culture, food and lifestyle of 11 indigenous communities have long been the lure for tourists.

In its master plan, Bangladesh Tourism Board has so far identified 1,051 tourist spots across the country. Of them, some 85 tourist spots have been identified in three hill districts–29 in Rangamati, 41 in Bandarban and 15 in Khagrachari.

Bandarban is blessed with unique natural beauty. According to a research titled “Problems and Prospects of Tourism in Bangladesh: Bandarban district case” published on global journals in 2012, Bandarban has opened boundless opportunities for thousands of people living in the hilly area.

“It is needless to mention about the enormous potential now it is offering to the tourism sector. There are more than 16 tourist spots, including Nilgiri, Nilachal, Nafakhum, Shailopropat, Rijuk waterfall, Chimbuk hill, in Bandarban.”

According to Bandarban Hotel Resort Owners Association, Bandarban is blessed with unique natural beauty of hills, waterfall, river, lake and mountain. Every day 10,000 to 20,000 tourists visit Bandarban. The number of visitors will double if security and policy support is ensured.

Rangamati is one of the key destinations for tourists in the CHT. There is opportunity to see an awesome combination of lake and hill. Tourists used to visit there to enjoy the magnificent view of the Kaptai Lake. Apart from this, Hanging Bridge, Shuvolong Waterfalls, DC Bungalow Park, Police Polwel Park, Rajban Bihar Pagoda, Kaptai National Park, Sajek Valley are some popular places.

According to Rangamti Residential Hotel Owner Association, some 15,000 tourists come per day during the peak season while at least 2,000 tourists used to come during the off-season.

Why potential remains untapped?

The potential of hill tourism still remains untapped due to various reasons, including lack of adequate infrastructure, coordination among the authorities concerned, lack of security and transportation facilities, unplanned development, limited excess to exploration, high cost and bureaucratic tangles.

Rangamati Residential Hotel Owner Association secretary Mainuddin Selim said that Rangamati witnessed a huge number of tourists after signing the peace accord in 1997. “But those days have gone by due to lack of trust among the community people.”

Earlier, a terrorist group was active but now at least four groups of terrorists are active here. They harass the tourists, including foreigners. Hence, security concern is a major issue here, he added.

He also said that the tourists cannot here from the whole country due to lack of transportation. There are not sufficient buses to come here from each and every part of the country. As a result, many residential hotels remain vacant even in the peak season.

What to do to boost industry?

Industry insiders said that the tourists prefer security while making any tour. The flow of tourists stops in different times if any terrorist incident happens here. So, steps must be taken to ensure security. On the other hand, tourism should be developed with the involvement of local stakeholders and the number of facilities must be increased.

Srijon Bikash Barua, Manager of Parjatan Holiday Complex, Rangamati said that no visible initiatives have been taken to develop tourism over the years. Only hotels and resorts are expanding footprints here but no initiatives are taken to boost tourism. There is also lack of initiatives for recreation and infrastructure.

Bandarban Hotel Resort Owners Association General Secretary Md. Sirajul Islam said that it is needed to increase the number of tourist spots to boost tourism. The government should take steps to end hassle and ensure proper policy support, he added.

Master plan for hill tourism

The government is going to finalise the master plan on tourism in December. The master plan has emphasised on hill tourism to utilise the potential.

The master plan has been designed with an aim to divide the hill regions into two zones based on Thanchi and Rangamati to cover the hill tracks. At the same time, the plan has focused on Kaptai Lake to develop floating cottage, restaurants, market following the style of Korea, Singapore and Finland.

Mohammad Saiful Hassan, Deputy Director (Research & Planning), said that there is huge opportunity to develop tourism in the hill tracks. “We have plans to utilise the potential.”

“We have designed the plan to boost investment and marketing here. We are very hopeful of developing leisure, adventure, eco, river and sustainable tourism in hill tracts. It is needed to involve the stakeholders and develop tourism with protecting the environment to make the industry sustainable,” he added.




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