Masuk Ur Rahman, Founder, River Recreation Camp and Ogreem.com
Photo: Arif Zaman
There has been a great shift in tourism destination and interest about tourism experience among young travelers considering the contents are being posted in social media. Once tourism was all about visiting any tourist attraction destinations or destination resorts. So there has been a boom in tourism industry focusing on brick and mortar development of tourism destinations and inception of luxury resorts in suburban areas of mega cities of Bangladesh. In recent days this scenario has changed. Once tourists used to save pennies for one or couple of tours in year. Now those youths are spending their weekends in exploring natural destinations offering natural wonders or in activities that expose them to the nature.
Youths of today are not searching for accommodation options while planning for any trip, they consider either staying in homestays or in tent camps igniting campfire for illumination of their campsite. For riverine destinations open decks of the boats do serve the purpose of staying. Once 5 Star hospitality services used to define experience, now youths call why staying in a 5 Star hotels while I can sleep under 7 Billion Stars! This attitude make them walk miles after miles, climb mountains after mountains just to summit a mountain peak or to take a shower in a waterfall. Instead of locked down cabins of luxury cruisers youths will prefer to stay in a wooden boat just to feel the tranquility of our precious marshlands. Once observation decks were built in areas with motor access to observe nature in remote areas and now young travelers be like I’ll be there to see how civilization looks like!
Just to experience the earth and nature there has been a growing interest regarding agro tourism. Be it harvesting, be it honey harvesting or fruit collection tour, city youth were never such interested to pay from their pockets just be in touch with earth. Field to Plate concept tour has been a new inception in tourism for weekend trips targeting urban youths is growing rapidly. These kind of trips offers a weekend in nature, let the visitors know about safe food and exposes them with the sourcing of safe food. Among these agro tours honey harvesting is the most exciting and adventurous one considering the risk associated with. Be it a journey with Mowals in Sundarbans or be it in apiculture firms, collecting honey is quite an experience a person can cherish forever.
Among all the shift in tourism interest, the most positive and feasible one has been inception of growing interest in river tourism. We have around 800 rivers flowing in our country. Among these 800 rivers Ganges and the Brahmaputra are two significant rivers in human civilization yet we were far behind from utilizing these natural wonders for our tourism development. Kayaking has been creating a game changing phenomena in our river tourism development. From Karnaphuli River to Ichamati River in Munshiganj, Kayaking has been revolutionizing the experience of river tourism in Bangladesh. There has been several river recreation camps operating in various rivers of Bangladesh. Another form of river tourism is dinner cruises, day cruise in traditional wooden boats and stayover in boats in our marshlands.
Each of the natural experience based tourism has been developed with a smaller scale by local entrepreneurs creating employment opportunity for the community they belong to. Be it home homestay, be it a boat, a firm house or trekkers lodge or Kayak base, each the initiators are disrupting the income sources of local population by attracting tourist in places that was never been considered as tourist destinations. There has been a growing demand for natural experience based tourism in Bangladesh and from supplier end local entrepreneurs are taking initiative offering hosting and experience services through the tour operators or direct communication with the consumer end. Market operation itself has developed an business ecosystem for nature based tourism in Bangladesh. Since there is no regulation for this particular industry and services of this particular sub sector requires less money and time, this sub sector is getting responses from greater number of people which does not comply with the nature to withstand the impact of large crowd. This phenomena is affecting the nature with pollution, flora and fauna is severely affected by the increased numbers of tourists and this results in destruction of the natural beauty and ecosystem and losses the unique selling proposition after couple of season. If we cannot control the excessive usage of the natural environment by limiting the number of tourists can stay in a particular place and bring all the stakeholders within a unified trade body for ensuring basic amenities and services this potential subsector will eventually fail to comply with the growing interest for this nature experience based tourism services in Bangladesh.