World Tourism Day was observed on September 27. The day was celebrated worldwide to encourage tourists. Theme of World Tourism Day was “Tourism and Jobs-a Better Future for All”. Tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification, and it has become one of the fastest-growing and most important economic sectors in the world. It is beneficial for communication with communities in world wide. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) promotes the Tourism Day for establishing sustainable, responsible, and universally accessible tourism. Tourism industry of any country is a profitable industry. Bangladesh is not exceptional; the tourism industry can contribute enormously to our country's economy.
There are so many tourist places in Bangladesh which can attract tourists more. Bangladesh is full of natural beauty all over the country. Cox's Bazar is the world's longest unbroken natural sea beach; the Sundarban is the only mangrove forest in the world and the view of sunrise and sunset from the same beach in the beautiful beach of Kuwakata is unique. The Chittagong Hill Tracts, Kaptai Lake, surrounded by green forests of Bandarban, Rangamati's Sajek Valley, and the past stands as a witness to the country's archaeological wonders including Paharpur, Mainamoti, Wari Bateshwar, Lalbagh Fort, Ahsan Manzil, sixty-domed mosque etc. In addition, to the domestic tourists who travel to these places, international tourists also crowd at different times of the year in our country.The infrastructure (Such as hotels, resorts, restaurants, shopping malls, transit facilities, cellphone shops, beauty shops and service providers) of the tourism industries are developing rapidly. Because of creating this infrastructure, the environment is losing the natural balance. We are destroying the forest which is the habitat of biodiversity and vegetation for recreation. Every construction activities are being polluted air, water and soil of the developing area. The uncontrolled activities of tourist resulting in the depletion of the surrounding environment. During the road construction period, the amount of particulate matter is increasing which contribute to air pollution. Smoke, dust, fumes are emitted from motorised vehicles such as coal or wood smoke, speedboats, engine-driven boats, which is another cause of air pollution in the tourist area. Oil emitted from tourist-driven ships and engine boats pollutes the water. On the other hand, tourists are arranging barbecue that pollutes the air by smoke and it’s also generatingsolid wastes. Lack of sanitation and waste management in hotels, resorts, restaurants contaminating water. Finally, the contaminated water is mixed with lakes, rivers and seawater. Leachate of decomposing waste pollutes the groundwater. Plastics used by tourists (once used glass, plates, etc.) and plastic packets of food have spread to the soil and water. Tourists use a high-quality sound system which is the main cause of noise pollution. Also, making noise or excessive noise in cars can be harmful to wildlife, birds or sea creatures. People collect materials directly from the nature of their debris such as coral reefs from St. Martin's Island, collecting various types of trees or shrubs from the Sundarbans, birds, deer, tiger are hunting, collecting snails and oysters from the beach. Such materials or biodiversity are disappearing as a result of human behaviour.
Stamford University Bangladesh’s department of Environmental Science conducted a research on air pollution in Khagrachari district which is one of the popular tourist places of Bangladesh. Data collected from seven stations in Khagrachari-Sazek highway for the research purpose and we have found that most samples contained particulate matters.
The collection and sale of corals, mosses, snails, oysters in the environmentally protected areas is strictly prohibited under the Environment Protection Act-1995, Gazette 20. Any harmful act for fish, turtles and other aquatic animals, lifting of stone and coral wall, use of stone and coral wall for construction work are prohibited. If anyone do it, he or she will be awarded a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of 200,000 takas. But, no one is paying attention to these laws. To protect the biodiversity of the coastal and wetlands, the Department of Environment has announced the Teknaf beach of Cox's Bazar as an Ecological Critical Area (ECA).
To get rid of this situation requires an environmental friendly travel, that is, eco-friendly travel. Eco-tourism is a responsible tourism activity carried out in the delicate and sensitive natural areas, which has the lowest negative impact on the natural features of the place and helps the local people's economic development. Domestic tourists can educate the travellers with a portion of the money earned from tourism to protect the natural environment. Eco-tourism must be conducted in a protected natural environment.
The writer is Chairman, Departmentof Environmental Science, Stamford University Bangladesh. He can be reached at:
E-mail: [email protected]