The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is expected to green-light the move on Tuesday
The world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, is all set to reopen in early November following a seven-month closure due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is expected to give the final approval of the move on Tuesday.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Begum Habibun Nahar, Deputy Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, said: “The restriction on tourists entering the Sundarbans is being lifted. Following approval by the ministry on Tuesday, tourists will be able to visit the Sundarbans from November 1.
“However, tour operators will not be allowed to carry more than 50 tourists at a time. And they will have to follow all government-issued health safety guidelines and hygiene protocols.”
Moinul Islam Jamaddar, president of Tour Operators Association of the Sundarbans, said: “Almost all tourist destinations of the country are now open. It will not be a problem if the Sundarbans is reopened.
“Thousands of employees of around 50 ships owned by 70 Sundarbans-based tour companies have remained unemployed for the last six months as a result of the coronavirus crisis. They have been facing an extreme financial crisis. The tourist season in the Sundarbans is only three to four months.”
“Only these three to four months are counted as the tourist season in the Sundarbans and businessmen linked to tourism have to pay the wages of their staff for the whole year. If the government doesn’t take any step to lift the restrictions, then it’ll be deprived of huge revenues while the tourism sector will collapse here,” he added.
There are nine tourist spots in the Sundarbans, with over 45,000 tourists visiting them from November to March, which is the peak time for Sundarbans tourism.
The government restricted tourist gatherings in the Sundarbans, a Unesco World Heritage Site, on March 19 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.