Tourism will get priority in three Hill Tract districts : Chairman, CHTDB

_A Monitor Report 16 Jan, 2019 | 735 Views|-+

Dhaka : Tourism is going to get priority in the development of three Hill Tract (CHT) districts_ Khagra-chari, Rangamati and Bandarban.

Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, ndc, Chairman, Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board (CHTDB) said while talking to The Bangladesh Monitor. In the next five years, a number of projects to develop tourism infrastructure, will be implemented in Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban to turn those into the most popular tourist destinations in the country, he said.

Naba Bikram was given the new government assignment after retiring from the position of Secretary, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs (MoCHTA) in February last year.

He said that the Ministry of CHT Affairs has drafted a development policy based on development of tourism, culture and heritage. These will be implemented by CHTDB.

The draft policy will help promote people-friendly tourism and establish community-based tourism. The three hill districts have ample opportunity for community-based tourism. This plan will not only promote people's friendly tourism, but will help tourists understand the culture, tradition and heritage of the people living in the hill forests.

CHT may not adopt strict tourism policy like in Bhutan, but we can take examples of lessons, learnt from protecting nature, environment and keeping the century-old traditions of the hill people without harming the eco-system, he added.

The government projects will be implemented by the local governments of three Hill districts. The Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban's Hill District Councils will not only be the implementation agencies but also supervise the commercial activities of the tourism companies.

Naba Bikram said that in conjunction with different government development agencies, some independent entrepreneurs would be engaged in development of eco-tourism on the basis of public-private partnership (PPP).

"Eco-tourism development will be strictly embedded in the draft government policy following international standard of compliance for all infrastructure development for hospitality and amusements of the tourists", he mentioned.

He regretted that currently unplanned growth of accommodations, restaurants and boats for tourists, are posing a threat to environment in the Hill Tracts. Despite the signs, put up by tour operators, hotels and restaurant managements, the tourists are dumping garbage in the green space and polluting the lake, which has reached at alarming level.

Immediate intervention is needed by all government agencies to stop damaging the eco-system and take efforts to clean the environment, he said.

Parallel to the approval of a policy for CHT, a master plan is under process which will include cable cars in Alutila in Khagrachari and Furamon hills in Rangamati. The Furamon hilltop will be higher than Genting Highlands in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which is 1,800 meters high, the CHTDB chairman said.

The CHTDB Chairman is visualising a landing strip in the area to be located between Rangamati and Khagrachari for 8 to10 passenger turboprop aircrafts.

The second could be a dedicated landing site for amphibian planes at Kaptai Lake near the Rangamati city. The passengers could be ferried to Rangamati or take a direct boat ride to Kaptai town or elsewhere.

In the past, seaplanes used to come to Kaptai lake for fun and work. As full-fledged airports for domestic carriers cannot be constructed, amphibian plane service could be an answer, he said.

Private amphibian flights were available from Dhaka to Bhola and other coastal town in the southern Bangladesh. Such flights could be formalised for regular trips to Rangamati and Kaptai - of course at dedicated landing sites.

Now some 200 tourist boats and hundreds of fishing boats roam in the lake at random. The boats could be allocated designated routes to different destinations.

"I am ready to negotiate with private airlines and private entrepreneurs to launch flights to Rangamati by amphibian planes. If they have any suggestions I will try to implement those to enable regular flights to Rangamati from Dhaka," he said.

Himalica project

Work on the pilot project jointly taken up by Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs of Bangladesh and the Inter-national Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) under Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas (Himalica) has added. The project was primarily focused on developing tourism in the Hill Tracts with a strategic, approach-based on the Himalica expertise gained from other regional countries.

MoCHTA has decided to negotiate revival and renewal of Himalica project for all the three Hill districts for the next five years. Earlier the pilot project was implemented in Bandarban district to promote sustainable and responsible tourism in Hill tracts.

During his tenure in MoCHT, he helped private trekking and camping clubs and associations to venture into Hill Tracts for organised trekking, biking, camping.

Naba Bikram also has plans for observation decks in all the three districts. An experienced team will use GPS mapping to determine its location and also survey for hilltop café, restaurant and couple of observation decks for tourists. Soon Furamon hills will be open for trekking under trained guides to the hilltop after the trekking route has been determined and developed for safe climbing. Tour guides were recruited for training are from the local communities who live in and around the hill.

The second one will be located at Alutila in Khagrachari. The third location at Bandarban is yet to be determined by the Bandarban Hill District Council.

Explaining about the natural resources on Hill Tracts, Naba Bikram Tripura said the huge 688 square km man-made Kaptai lake remains untapped for tourism and other activities.

Commercial fishing is insignificant compared to any other private fishing in other lakes, wetlands and large ponds.

Fisheries Department needs to make efforts to increase fishing to encourage fishing by tourists. If facilities are created, fishing in Kaptai Lake could be major attraction for amateur anglers from all over the country. Fishing festivals could be organised to attract both professional and amateur anglers from different countries too.

CHTDB wants to introduce water-skiing, boating, kayaking, sailing boats, fishing and other activities to keep the tourists busy with funs and amusement activities.

Regarding security of the tourists and security of the tourist's accommodations, the CHTDB chairman had held meeting with the three police chiefs of the Hill districts. "Incidentally they were my students in the police training courses. They have expressed their determination to ensure security and also help people to maintain environment in CHT," Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura concluded.

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