Forest-based Tourism in Bangladesh: Challenges Unveiled for the Sundarbans

Md. Ariful Hoque, Easnin Ara, Muhammad Shoeb-Ur-Rahman


Tourism is one of the ever-growing industries all around the world. It has been highlighted recently as a priority sector for Bangladesh to utilize the country’s natural beauty, cultural, and archaeological heritage. Among lots of attractions, the Sundarbans Reserved Forest (SRF) in Bangladesh is the single most extensive mangrove forest in the world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared the Sundarbans as a world heritage site since it represents the world’s largest continuous mangrove forest. Despite having so many advantageous factors and parameters, Sundarbans has not been able to attract the deserved level of attention and remains impoverished. This study has considered the Sundarbans as a single holistic case to understand various challenges within a lens of forest-based tourism aligning the tourism development context of Bangladesh. In so doing, a qualitative research approach has been employed. Under such an approach, multiple data collection techniques have been utilized to collect empirical evidence including in-depth interviews, participant observation, and secondary (both published and unpublished) sources. Findings of the study indicate that tourism development in Sundarbans is challenged by inadequate infrastructures, lack of proper planning and management, dominance of wealthy urban elites, lack of training and education, limited support from local authorities, issues of security, and deception from fraudulent intermediaries. This research is particularly meaningful for tourism policymakers in Bangladesh who lack research support for their decisions.

Keywords: forest-based tourism, challenges, the Sundarbans, tourism policymakers, Bangladesh

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