September 27 was the World Tourism Day. The 2020 edition of the Day, with the theme of “Tourism and Rural Development”, will celebrate the unique role that tourism plays in providing opportunities outside of big cities and preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world. This day was celebrated all over the world to encourage tourists.
The tourism industry of any country is a profitable industry. Bangladesh is no exception to the fact that tourism can make a huge contribution to the economy of any country. Bangladesh also has many tourist destinations to attract tourists such as Cox’s Bazar, the world’s longest uninterrupted natural sea beach, the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, the sea-girl Kuakata, wonderful grassland Sylhet, Chittagong Hill Tracts of tribal stoicism, Rangamati Kaptai Lake and greenery, Sajek Valley, Paharpur, Mainamati, Wari Bateshwar, Lalbagh Fort, Ahsan Manzil, Shat Gumbuj Mosque, etc.
The tourism industry is as profitable as it is for us, and it is also a threat to our environment due to lack of proper management. Various infrastructures such as hotels, resorts, restaurants, shopping malls, travel providers, cell phone shops, beauty products stores and service providers etc were developed around the tourism industry. When building these infrastructures, the environment is sometimes destroyed, the balance is lost. Also, when travellers travel, they perform activities for their own enjoyment, as a result of which environmental elements such as air, water, soil, etc. are constantly being polluted.
The number of vehicles is increasing as a result of the improvement of the transportation system. The black smoke of these vehicles is polluting the fresh air. The air is polluted by the smoke from the bus, cars, jeeps, speed-boats, engine-powered boats, etc., which are used to make tourists entertain, and the air is being polluted by burning coal or wood for BBQ, as well as increasing the amount of particulate matter mixed with the dust while building the hotel-resort, roads etc. In 2028 the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Stanford University conducted a study on the air quality in the Khagrachhari district and found as that the presence of particulate matter or dust was the highest at Khagrachhari-Sajek highway.
The sludge of rotting waste is polluting the underground water. Plastic packets used by tourists (single used glasses, plates, etc.) and plastic packets of food items are scattering in the soil and water. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), tiny plastic particles have been mixed into seawater due to the rotation of the wheels of moving vehicles, which is responsible for about 30 percent of marine pollution. Also the noise of cars or excessive noise can be harmful to wildlife, birds or sea creatures.
Biodiversity and habitats are being destroyed as a result of deforestation and construction of infrastructure to facilitate the recreation of tourists. As a hobby, people directly extract various materials from nature such as extracting coral from St. Martin’s, Chheradia Island, collecting various types of trees or tree parts from the Sundarbans, collecting birds, deer, tiger hunting, snails from the beach, collecting oysters, etc. As a result of such behaviour of human beings, these materials or biodiversity are becoming interrupted and sometime extinct.
To protect coastal and wetland biodiversity, the Department of Environment declared Teknaf Beach and St. Martin’s Island in Cox’s Bazar an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA) in 1995. According to the Environmental Protection Act, 1995 (Gazette 1999), the collection and sale of corals, algae, snails and oysters has been completely banned in the affected areas. Any kind of work that is harmful to fish, turtles and other aquatic animals is prohibited. Non-compliance of the order is punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment and a maximum fine of taka two lakh. Although no one is paying attention to these laws, the Department of Environment is also not showing much sincerity in implementing the law under the excuse of manpower shortage.
Eco-tourism is needed to get rid of this situation. Eco-tourism is a responsible tourism activity conducted in delicate and sensitive natural areas that has the least negative impact on the natural features of the place and contributes to the socio-economic development of the local people. Such tourism can educate travellers in natural education and a portion of the money earned from such tourism activities is used to protect the natural environment.
There are several things to keep in mind when it comes to eco-tourism. Eco-tourism must be conducted in a protected natural environment. There will be minimal harmful effects on the environment. It will help to raise awareness about the environment. It will help directly in preserving the natural environment; assist in providing financial assistance and empowerment to the local people; teach to respect local sociality. It will also help create human rights and democratic values.
Tourism has been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic. No country remains unaffected. Restrictions on travel and a sudden drop in consumer demand have led to an unprecedented fall in international tourism numbers, which in turn have led to economic loss and the loss of jobs where government can help them by providing intensives. But one thing that Covid-19 pandemic teaches us is, how nature can be restored if there is no disturbances by human. That is why we should be very careful while exploring nature for the tourism.
Through the implementation of eco-tourism, on the one hand, it is possible to preserve its biodiversity; on the other hand, it is also possible to expand the tourism industry. This requires awareness of the residents, tourists and policy makers of the tourist area. We must preserve these wonderful gifts of nature for ourselves and for the next generation. If we can’t save, then tourist places will no longer be suitable for travel. That’s not going to be good at all for our tourism industry.