Annual visitor arrivals at Sundarbans rise to 250,000 but drawbacks remain

  • Shuvro Sachin, Khulna Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-01-16 19:35:50 BdST

More than 250,000 domestic and international tourists have visited the Sundarbans in 2018-19 fiscal year.

The government earned Tk 20 million from the Sundarbans tourism, according to Divisional Forest Officer (west) Boshirul Al Mamun.

The number of visitors increased by 30,000 year-on-year. It was 183,000 in the previous year.

Amid an increase in the number of visitors at the world’s largest mangrove forests each year, complaints have been made by the tourists and travel agencies over the insufficient arrangements of travel to the Sundarbans.

The complaints mostly include food and accommodation, adequate security, supply of fresh water and booking complications at the forest department.

Jasmine Nahar, teacher of a kindergarten school in Dhaka, told she had plans to visit the Sundarbans but cancelled the trip due to booking complications.

“We have to face problems in getting travel approval from the forest department. Many tourists are not allowed to visit the forest due to diplomatic complications. The number of visitors will increase if the authorities ease the procedure. It will also minimise the cost.”

She also said non-government travel agencies charge visitors exorbitant prices.

A pair of spotted deer is roaming in the Katka Wildlife Sanctuary in the Sundarbans. Bangladesh observed Sundarbans Day with a slogan, “Love Sundarbans on Valentine’s Day” on Thursday. Photo: Mostafigur Rahman

Another visitor, Mujibur Rahman, complained disruptions of mobile network in many parts of the Sundarbans due to which he could not connect with most of his trading partners.

He also asked that emergency medical treatment and fresh drinking water facilities be ensured at Katka- Kochikhali area where most of the vessels carrying visitors anchor first.

Mazharul Islam Kochi, managing director of Ever Green Tours and Travels Ltd, expressed concerns over the inadequate security at the Sundarbans.

“The security system is still precarious and each ferry gets only two forest guards, who are often too old to carry firearms. That’s why the dangers remain.”

“Tourists also do not get proper accommodation. They have to spend the night on their boats. The watchtowers are also rickety and the tourist ferries are not allowed to use the forest department jetties. There is a crisis of fresh water.”

A Tk 250 million project has been proposed to revamp the Sundarbans tourism, forest conservator Md Moinuddin Khan said.

“As part of the project, four new eco parks and watch towers will be installed to draw in more visitors,” he added.