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The Sundarbans to get four new tourist zones

  • Published at 02:20 pm October 1st, 2018
File photo of a canal in Sundarbans Dhaka Tribune

This has been decided to accomodate growing tourism at the UNESCO World Heritage Site

To tackle the growing number of eco-tourists in the Sundarbans, four new tourist zones are being built in the world's largest coastal mangrove forest.

The number of local and foreign tourists has been on the rise ever since the three tourist spots in the Sundarbans were declared as the 798th World Heritage Site by Unesco on December 6, 1997.  

During the FY2016-17, 183,490 tourists visited the Sunbarbans—which increased to 221,969 during the FY2017-18. 

Last year, the Sundarbans department earned Tk2 crore in revenue from tourism alone. The forest department has decided to build four other tourist zones to further expand the tourism sector.

The four ecotourism centres are being built in: Alibandha in Shwarankhola range under the East Sundarbans division of Bagerhat, Andharmanik in Chadpai range, Shekhertek under the West Sundarbans division of Khulna, and Kailashganj. 

The forest department is spending nearly Tk25 crore to build the new tourist zones. 

Aside from the free roaming of animals such as deer and crocodiles, these four zones will provide high security for all tourists.

Modern gangways and jetties, watchtowers, wooden trails, and restrooms will be built to accommodate local and foreign tourists in the best possible manner.

The Sundarbans department confirmed the matter.

According to the department, inside the total area of 6,017 sq km of the Sundarbans, there are 334 plant species, 165 coral species, and 13 orchid species.

Aside from that, there are 375 wild animal species,including: Royal Bengal tigers, spotted and white-tailed deer, six dolphin species, saltwater crocodiles, turtles, and different snake species. 

The Sundarbans also has 315 bird species, and in the 1,874.1 sq km of water land, there are 210 fish species, 24 prawn species, 14 crab species and 43 mollusk species.

The unique and diverse plant and wildlife of the Sundarbans account for the rise in numbers of tourists visiting every year.

Unesco declared 139,700 hectares of forest land in Katka-Kachikhali East sanctuary, Neelkomol South sanctuary, and West sanctuary as a World Heritage Site on December 6, 1997.

After the declaration, the number of local and foreign tourists began to increase in: Karamjal, Harbaria, Katka, Jamtola, Tiger Point, Badamtola, Kachikhali, Dubla, Dobeki, Kalagachhia, Mandarbaria, Hiron Point, and Neelkomol areas inside the Sundarbans.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of East Sundarbans department in Bagerhat Mahmudul Hasan said: "The Sundarbans is a preserved forest land. Only a few forests have been declared World Heritage Sites across the world—the Sundarbans is one among them.

"After being labeled as a World Heritage Site, local and foreign eco-tourists are  increasingly attracted to the diverse wildlife of the Sundarbans," said the DFO. 

The forest department is prioritizing wildlife preservation of the Sundarbans as it is facing increasing threats due to climate change, human habitation inside the forest, and lack of potable water due to Farakka dam, the DFO said.

The four new tourist zones are being established to decrease the pressure on the existing tourist zones and to help the the tourism industry flourish, said the DFO.

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