Cox’s Bazar gears up to become world-class tourist destination
With the easing of restrictions at home and abroad, Bangladesh’s tourism sector looks forward to a quick recovery from the huge losses it has suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both the government and private operators are banking more on Cox’s Bazar that boasts of the world’s longest unbroken sandy beach along the Bay of Bengal.
For attracting both globetrotters and local holidaymakers Bangladesh government has taken up a master plan centring the most frequented tourist spot in the country, Cox’s Bazar. The multiphase plan aims to redesign the region into an exclusive and international tour magnet.
After the setback caused by the pandemic, this plan appeared as an effort to regain the momentum of Bangladesh tourism which will become visible within two years.
Detailed master plan
Chairman of Cox’s Bazar Development Authority Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Forkan Ahmed told UNB the preparation to implement the master plan has started from a small part of the district at first and it will be implemented in phases.
The administrative nod to the Development Project Plan sent for this master plan covering 690.67 acre square kilometres of the district has already been provided, said Forkan.
A year has been invested in the planning phase just to collect opinions and suggestions of the locals for turning Cox’s Bazar into the planned, modern and dream tourism capital of Bangladesh, he said.
Forkan said the master plan includes details of the locations of hotels, resorts, rest houses, hospitals and houses to be built and where restrictions will be imposed for movements.
“The whole plan will also be implemented considering the conservation of biodiversity of the region,” he added.
The plan mentions a strictly maintained separate zone for the international tourists consisting of surfing arrangements and a surfing training centre, said the chairman.
He said currently a big campaign about the project is on to put a stop to unplanned development work in the area which will obstruct the well-planned blueprint of the master plan.
Regarding the term of the project, Forkan said as already many unplanned establishments are there in Cox’s Bazar, it will take more time to overhaul everything under a plan.
“We’ll have to wait for two years to see the results of the master plan. During this time, local assistance will be vital for making Cox’s Bazar more attractive for local vacationers and to make special management for international tourists,” he said.
A hope for the pandemic-hit tourism
The master plan promising to ensure overall safety and facilities to global tourists in Cox’s Bazar might turn it one of the most favourite international tourist destinations and bring revenues for the country, said State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali.
He said the government is trying its best to uplift the tourism sector from the pitfall it faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“So far, a Tk 15,00-crore stimulus has been announced to assist different business stakeholders of this sector,” said the state minister.
He said the livelihoods of 40 lakh people in Bangladesh are connected with tourism.
In 2019, this sector contributed Tk 950.7 billion to national income, 4.40 per cent of the total GDP which in the future can exceed 6 per cent, said Mahbub.
Three more tourism parks to be established in Cox’s Bazar under this plan will create jobs for 40,000 more people and create scope of extra financial activities of 200 crore US dollar, he added.
Regarding the post-pandemic tourism in Bangladesh, the state minister said a Crisis Management Committee has been formed to determine the damages and find a solution to recover from it.
Recently, all the tourism spots have been reopened following the Covid health rules and already two crore internal tourists left their footmarks in those places after a long lockdown, he said.
The government also has prepared directions to follow for reopening Tourism amid Covid and distributed it, trained the stakeholders on those directions, prepared a tourism recovery plan, coordinated with relevant directorates and ministries to hand over the stimulus package.
It has started training the tourism stakeholders for developing efficacy and kicked off awareness campaigns on local government levels, said the state minister.