The modern era is moving forward at a breakneck speed due to rapid industrialization, urbanization, and globalization, and people around the world are constantly obtaining their goals at the cost of their surroundings without even thinking about the environment. As a result, our environment is losing its identity. Large forests like the Amazon are being destroyed, and thousands of rivers, canals, and reservoirs are constantly dying due to extreme external and internal impacts on the environment.
The environment has lost any semblance of balance and has started behaving abnormally as we are clearly observing — it is indubitable that humans are the main culprit for destroying the environment. Tourism is one of the many causes of environmental destruction as, nowadays, the environment is being destroyed severely through rampant and unplanned expansion of the tourism industry worldwide.
To prevent tourism’s impact on the environment, a term that has gained popularity in recent times: Eco-tourism. According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES, 2015), “eco-tourism is now defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” Although eco-tourism is a burning issue throughout the world today, it is hardly given the emphasis it deserves due to a lack of implementation. But the time has come to finally give eco-tourism its due.
Currently, we are seeing that powerful people with vested interests are paving the way to various tourist spots in certain sensitive yet highly desired places, but they do not consider the damage that may happen to the environment and the surrounding people in these areas at all.
Because of the ceaseless pursuit of profit, the progress of our country’s tourism industry has all but stagnated — which is why we are very unlikely to achieve long-term economic prosperity within our tourism sector. Eco-tourism, I believe, can change that.
Challenges in implementing eco-tourism
Lack of planning: The tourism sector in Bangladesh started with the purpose of showcasing our country while earning a profit, so various types of tourist spots were built without any kind of sustainable planning. Due to such brittle planning, these tourist spots can be lost at any minute.
Lack of adequate knowledge: Entrepreneurs in the tourism sector in Bangladesh have insufficient knowledge about eco-tourism. So their plans are not implemented properly. That’s why it has been impossible to build eco-friendly tourism spots in Bangladesh thus far.
Lack of skilled manpower: Eco-tourism creates employment for local communities, but the jobs are usually taken over by foreign workers due to their skill shortages. As a result, the local community cannot enjoy the benefits of eco-tourism. For this reason, skilled manpower should be produced in the country equipped with tourism-based skills.
Lack of enthusiasm and professionalism: In most cases, when it comes to implementing eco-tourism, it is seen that the implementing authorities lose enthusiasm and professionalism, thus such projects fall flat.
Lack of capital: To develop eco-tourism, a large amount of capital is required at the beginning, which is one of the obstacles to its implementation. If you want to develop eco-friendly tourism, you have to consider all the factors and then implement the project, so naturally the cost increases.
Blunders in employment generation: The number of tourists decreases or increases with time at any given spot, so it has not been possible to create sustainable and continuous employment. As a result, there remains a kind of fallacy at work.
Complex process: A very complex process has to be followed to implement eco-tourism. Because, in this case, tourism spots should be developed by thinking about the environment and people following the existing laws and regulations in the country.
Lack of certification: If you want to implement each project, you have to get international and national certifications from the government or international bodies, so many people develop tourism areas on their own and destroy the environment without any consideration.
Ways to overcome challenges in implementing eco-tourism
Educating locals and tourists: Eco-friendly tourism can be introduced if the people of fringe villages and traveling tourists are made aware of eco-tourism. As a result, our tourism sector will become more sustainable and developed, bolstering our economy in the process.
Introducing an eco-tourism management system in existing tourist spots: Bangladesh is a country full of tourist spots — every village in Bangladesh can be considered a tourist spot at any given time of the year. So, the government should support every tourist spot in the country under an eco-tourism policy to transform the tourism sector of our country into a sustainable one.
Voice of policy-makers: If the tourism policy-makers shed light on the beneficial aspects of eco-tourism, various steps are likely to be taken by the government — as a result of which eco-tourism can be firmly established.
Building a skilled population: A large amount of skilled manpower is needed to establish eco-tourism. Moreover, employment will be created for many people through this and the living standards of marginalized people are bound to improve alongside.
Make proper planning: Eco-tourism can only be successful and develop a sustainable tourism sector if it is properly planned, keeping in mind the conservation of the environment, the local population, wildlife, etc.
Eco-tourism in sustainable development
The United Nations is determined to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 through 17 overarching goals. That is why each of us is always encouraged to work sustainably. Tourism is one of the most important sectors of economic development for Bangladesh as it accelerates economic development by generating a great deal of employment.
Eco-tourism is particularly helpful in eliminating the negative aspects of the tourism sector — it plays a great role in economic, social, and environmental development. Above all, eco-tourism contributes to sustainable development by ensuring the welfare of the environment and the people at the same time.
Md Billal Hossen is a freelance contributor.
Visit our sponsors
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is the cheaper, easier way to send money abroad. It helps people move money quickly and easily between bank accounts in different countries. Convert 60+ currencies with ridiculously low fees - on average 7x cheaper than a bank. No hidden fees, no markup on the exchange rate, ever.