Plans have been set in motion for some time now to transform the tourism sector of Bangladesh. As of now, the government has taken up three projects, specifically Naf Tourism Park, Sabrang Tourism Park and Sonadia Eco Tourism Park, which are all based in the district of Cox’s Bazar.
Bangladesh Economic Zone Authorities (Beza) Executive Chairman, Paban Chowdhury said to Dhaka Tribune: “We want to transform the tourism industry within the next five years.
The norm as it stands when it comes to boosting tourism usually revolves around building hotels and motels. But we want to redefine that and we are currently developing three tourism parks in three islands in Cox’s Bazar. Our hope is that it will attract tourists from both home and abroad and it will create scope for additional foreign and local investment.”
Beza aims to generate $2billion for the economy and create two hundred thousand new jobs from these parks, which they feel will also encourage development across the country.
Paban said these Island based ecotourism parks have massive potential and people want to enjoy their vacations in a calm and peaceful environment.
Beza is set to offer 100% tax exemption for the first 10 years, followed by 70% and 30% tax exemptions in the 11th and 12th year, respectively.
The Sabrang Tourism Park is at the lip of the island Bador Mokam, where one can enjoy sun rise and sun set on a sandy beach
Jaliardwip to become Naf Tourism Park
Jaliardwip, the once neglected island is located smack in the middle of Naf River and was illegally occupied by a group of locals for over 40 years. Today, with Beza’s help the land has been rid of most of these encroachers and now it is set to become the very first river based tourism park which will be called Naf Tourism Park.
The park is comprised of 271 acres and is located two kilometres away from Teknaf and adjacent to the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway.
“The park will host various tourism and entertainment facilities. We are currently in the final stages of the development of the land for Naf Tourism Park,” said Paban while talking to correspondents at Beza headquarters in Dhaka.
He said: “The electricity has already been transmitted to Naf Tourism Park through submarine cables as of January 1 and the island was electrified on January 26.”
The Beza chair also said: “We will start to circulate tenders to build a 5.2km long embankment at the park. We also have clearance from the Ministry of Forest and Environment to operate cable cars.”
As per Naf Tourism Park project plans, the government is set to build the park inside a 1.2km boundary wall where 6.5 to 8.5km will be covered by cable cars. The government will also build a 450 metre long hanging bridge, a 40 to 50 metre long jetty, an oceanarium, hanging resorts, eco-cottages, a convention centre, a swimming pool, lakes, aqua lakes, fishing jetties, amusement parks, children parks, parking areas, a designated shopping area for the tourists and six security posts to ensure safety and security.
Upon completion of works, the government will hand over the project to private investors for further development.
The development of the infrastructure is scheduled to begin on July 2018, with a tentative completion date of June 2020.
Sources at Beza said the government will bear the cost for developing the park which is estimated at Tk230cr. Beza said they aim to get an additional investment of Tk3,000cr from domestic and foreign private investors.
First-ever seafront Tourism Park at Sabrang
Encompassing 1027 acres of land, Sabrang Tourism Park is set to be located in Teknaf and will be the first ever seafront tourism park in Bangladesh.
The proposed Park is 5km away from Teknaf town and the Cox’s Bazar-Sabrang Marine Drive is the access road to the proposed Park and this connects the National Highway (N1) in a stretch of 5km.
The park is 96km away from the Cox’s Bazar Airport and 9km from the Teknaf Land Port.
Besides, the Sabrang Tourism Park is at the lip of the island Bador Mokam, where one can enjoy both sun rise and sun set staying at sandy beach.
The government is developing the exclusive tourism park with facilities including: hotel complexes, eco-tourism elements, floating jetty, marine aquarium, sea cruise, eco-cottage, oceanarium and floating restaurant.
The tourism park located with exclusive beach front from where a coral island the Saint Martin could be easily reached by half an hour through sea cruise.
Sources said the Beza has also planned to build an international standard ocean-park, golf course, duty-free shopping mall, food courts, souvenir shops, hospital, theatres, helipad, business centres, and 3D aquarium at the Sabrang Tourism Park.
Talking with the Dhaka Tribune the Beza Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury said: “We are hoping to start the land development of Sabrang Tourism Park this month and the tender regarding this has been circulated which would be opened soon.
“We have submitted detailed project plan to the government, while we are also doing some projects through our own funding.”
The Sabrang park will be developed in a planned way including jetties, observation tower, harbours, hotel,-motel, shopping centre and those are scheduled to be completed within 2020, said the Beza chief.
“At the tourism park, the tourists from home and abroad would enjoy all kind of tourism and entertainment facilities in the safest, calm and reserved environment,” said Chowdhury.
“The park will boost tourism and reduce the country’s dependence on the apparel sector for export earnings,” he added.
A new ‘tourists city’ like Cox’s Bazar at Red Crabs island
Sonadia, also known as Red Crabs, is an island located in Maheshkhali and by 2020, will become home to Sonadia Eco Tourism Park.
The government plans to build this park along 37,000 acres of land, comprised of Sonadia and other adjacent islands.
Till date, the Ministry of Land has given consent to Beza to use approximately 12,000 acres of land, as land encroachment remains a major challenge.
“Sonadia Eco Tourism Park will be a new tourism city like Cox’s Bazar. We have already created a master plan and completed the initial surveys. The only obstacle that remains is the issue of land encroachment,” said Paban to Dhaka Tribune.
The Beza chief said they will create facilities and assign security forces to prevent further land encroachment. He added: “We are planning to build administrative buildings and cottages.”
Paban further said that while Sonadia Island is 2.7km away from the main land, Beza has plans to connect the port with bridges that will be completed by 2030 and till then, they plan use ferries for transportation.
Beza also plans to make 1.25km area inaccessible to the public in an effort to protect the eco-system by building observation towers.
He said: “In order to the keep the island eco-friendly, only 25% of the land will be used for the infrastructure without harming the existing stocks of lush green.”
Beza sources have confirmed, Sonadia Eco Tourism Park will have marine parks, museums, marine cruises, water sports and small shopping centres.