By Mizan Rahman/Dhaka
Bangladesh has at long last started training youths of the Sundarbans region as eco-guides for ensuring responsible tourism in the world’s largest mangrove forest.
“We would like to pick many educated and enthusiastic youth from areas adjacent to the Sundarbans to make them eco-guides so that they can conserve unique nature and wildlife of the mangrove forest through ensuring responsible tourism,” Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon said yesterday.
The state-run Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) in co-operation with Bengal Tours, one of the largest tour operators in the Sundarbans, imparted a 10-day infield eco-guide training to 20 local youths including four females last week.
The minister said, “Practice of eco-tourism is a must in the Sundarbans. The number of both local and foreign tourists is increasing in the Sundarbans day by day but we have scarcity of eco tourist guides and professional tour
operators there. “
He said on one hand, the eco-guides will ensure biodiversity conservation in the forest, they will create employment opportunities for the local educated youths on the other.
The minister has already urged the forest department to refer eco-guides to the tour operators when they give entry permission to any
“If the tour operators hire an eco-guide along with forest guards whenever they bring tourist groups in the Sundarbans, the visitors will be encouraged to practise responsible tourism during their stay in deep forest,” he said.
Noting the importance of the Sundarbans as Unesco world heritage site, Menon said the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) put special emphasis on this world largest
“We received a proposal from the UNWTO to present the world’s largest mangrove forest Sundarbans, a Unesco heritage, to international holidaymakers in proper tourism-friendly way,” he said.
The minister said he will hold meetings with Forest and Environment Ministry soon to upgrade the existing Sundarbans Tourism Policy for supporting the tour operators to conduct responsible tourism in the region.
During the 10-day training, academic lessons were imparted in three days, awareness campaign in two days and in field training for five days.
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir, chief executive officer, BTB, said currently the BTB is working to upgrade the modules of the training curriculum to make the eco-guide building process more effective.
“We will seek applications from interested educated local youths to become eco-guides through publishing advertisement in the newspapers soon,” he said.
The BTB chief said they will provide eco-guide training to the interested candidates phase by phase to adequate number of eco-guides from four districts - Khulna, Satkhira, Bagherhat and Barguna.
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