BPC identifies 800 potential spots in six divisions
With better facilities and infrastructure, the newly explored tourist spots can rejuvenate the tourism sector and contribute significantly in the rural economy to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government took several steps to develop new tourist spots, while for the FY21 it allocated Tk70.2 crore for the development of tourism sector in its annual development programme (ADP).
As a part of government's measures to boost the country’s tourism sector, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) has identified 800 tourist spots, which can attract tourists from home and abroad.
BPC disclosed the name of those potential tourist spot at a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism.
The Ministry of Information also unveiled pictorial, bilingual handbooks during the meeting, on those 800 spots in six divisions, at a cost of Tk1 crore.
These divisions are - Sylhet, Khulna, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Barisal and Rangpur.
The eight projects which received allocations include improving tourist facilities such as toilets, food courts and umbrella stands at Kazipur in Sirajganj, several motels at Salna, Parki resort at Anwara in Chittagong, Khurushkul Sheikh Hasina Tower at the outskirts of Cox's Bazar, facilities at Susang in Netrakona, Kanon Dighi in Comilla, Gazni at Sherpur and capacity building as well as renovation of Hotel Abakash and National Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (NHTTI) in the capital.
Talking on the newly identified spots, the standing committee members urged the concerned authorities to take necessary steps to ensure all kinds of facilities for the tourists.
On the other hand, tour operators as well as the member of the standing committee opined that if the authorities can ensure safety and proper infrastructure to the tourists visiting those areas, it will help the rural economy to recover from the economic fallout of Covid-19.
How the new spots can help
As very few airlines resumed their domestic operations since May, the government is emphasizing new local tourist spots to set the ball rolling again for domestic tourism.
Abdul Awal, who visited Sylhet from Dhaka recently, was planning on visiting some of the new tourist spots once the BPC published the list.
He visited several tourist spots in Sylhet in the last few years, including several tea gardens, Jaflong, Pantumai waterfall and Ratargul rainforest, but lamented that the places were losing their charm as a huge influx of tourists was responsible for littering and pollution over there.
“Pollution is everywhere as we are overpopulated in a small country. If new places can be developed, then overcrowding of the popular tourist spots would be reduced,” he suggested.
“I recently visited the Chaitanya Dev Temple in Sylhet, which can be a popular tourist spot if it receives infrastructural development,” he added.
According to the BPC, out of the 800 spots, 111 spots are in Sylhet, including the Chaitanya Dev temple, Pantumai waterfall, Guru Gobinda Durgo, Gazir Mokam, Balla Ghat, etc. Additionally, 100 spots were in Barisal, 200 spots in Rangpur, 200 in Rajshahi, 200 in Chittagong, 150 in Chandpur and 200 in Khulna.
Kefayet Shakil, a journalist who covers environment and tourism beats for a local electronic media, emphasized rural tourism to ensure natural conservation, and preservation of rural traditions and cultures.
"Most tourists visit Cox's Bazar, but very few go to Kuakata as we never highlighted other places. As a result, overcrowded Cox's Bazar gets polluted. We must develop alternative spots," he urged.
“Most of us know Nilgiri, Sajek, and Chimbuk hills when we talk about Bandarban, but there are more hilly areas including Rangamati and Khagrachhari. We do not visit those spots as much due to lack of tourist facilities, absence of infrastructural development and security. These must be ensured before opening for the public," he suggested.
Several other tourists suggested highlighting smaller ethnic groups across the country.
If the unknown ethnic groups and their cultures could be promoted, then people would visit them and enhance the rural economy in those areas, they added.
Ziaul Haque Howlader, public relations manager at the BPC, said: “There will be tourism facilities including car parking, food courts, road connectivity to all the tourist areas. We already discussed these new projects in Sunday's meeting. We will get a fund in the next revised budget or next annual budget meeting.”
If new spots are not opened, tourists will become bored with the old spots and will visit other countries. But by developing rural tourism, we can enhance the rural economy, which will have a positive impact on the country's GDP, he further said.
Md Rafeuzzaman, president of Tour Operators of Bangladesh (Toab), said that domestic and cross-border tourism will tide over the losses, as international travel still remains closed for different countries.