On a global basis, tourism frequently reaches and surpasses appropriate limits to growth with little notice, planning, or response from decision makers. In recent years, policy makers have begun to advocate sustainable destination planning for tourism – with a set of management approaches that can help ensure that tourism is not environmentally damaging, contributes to conservation and local community development, and provides opportunities for enhanced conservation and sustainable development.
In 2004, the World Tourism Organization, now the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), published an important guide to Indicators of Sustainable Development for Tourism Destinations. This guide is the result of efforts from over 60 authors working in 20 countries, covering a wide variety of case circumstances for tourism development in both developed and developing countries.
Its intent is to provide a process by which policy makers can use research based indicators to make decisions on guiding the development of sustainable tourism.
The Integrated Protected Area Co-management Project (IPAC) requested that EplerWood International perform an analysis of tourism in the Sundarbans Reserve Forest (SRF) to contribute to their program to develop a co-management system for stakeholders in the region which will garner the support of stakeholders/user groups to preserve the ecosystem.
The SRF is part of the larger Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage site recognized by UNESCO, found in both India and Bangladesh, with over 23,000 square miles of mangrove ecosystem found within Bangladesh. Hundreds of endangered Bengal tigers live in the reserve, with exact populations difficult to estimate, as they are rarely observed by visitors or scientists, despite their regular man-eating attacks on local residents who harvest resources in the reserve. Other charismatic species more likely to be observed are the huge Estuarine Crocodile, abundant Spotted Deer, and Otter. Bird watching is a key attraction with 250 species among which are many wading birds that populate the banks of the mangroves. International news was recently made in 2009 when research was formally presented on a previously unknown hot spot for Irrawaddy Dolphin and the Ganges River Dolphin within reserve waters. This will undoubtedly bring more foreign visitors in future.
The tourism industry is frequently referenced in Bangladesh as a highly important stakeholder/user group with the potential to provide extensive benefits to the Sundarbans Reserve Forest. However, there is no consistent analysis of tourism’s impacts on the ecosystem or neighboring communities. And there is no existing tourism plan in effect to help measure how tourism management is functioning at present, nor is there any management authority within the reserve that has tourism management as part of its mandate.
EplerWood International recommended a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis of tourism to help IPAC capture current, relevant data on tourism in its various forms – both domestic and international – in the Sundarbans Reserve Forest. This data gathering program was not intended to provide a strategy for tourism development in the SRF. It is a preliminary study to help guide IPAC and its governmental and strategic partners towards appropriate decisions on a system of tourism planning and management in future.
A SWOT analysis helps tourism managers to assess tourism potential and helps managers to decide what type of indicators will be useful in monitoring trends and progress towards achieving goals of a tourism destination.
A SWOT analysis should give a succinct analysis of a destination’s assets and short comings and reveal the opportunities and challenges it faces.
This SWOT analysis of the Sundarbans has been developed to guide decision making on the means to develop tourism in the Sundarbans Reserve Forest in a sustainable manner. It will reveal opportunities for further research and investigation, and help decision makers to review what options exist for improving tourism’s benefits while reducing its negative impacts. It is not a strategy, but should be used by those seeking to develop a strategy with further research and investigation.
This article is quoted from the introduction of the report Strengths, Weaknesses Opportunities & Threats (SWOT) of Tourism in the Sundarbans Reserve Forest, Bangladesh . This report is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this report are the sole responsibility of International Resources Group (IRG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
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There are so many visionary people and valuable resources related to a sustainable tourism development in Bangladesh. If these forces are united great things will happen – both on grass root, private sector and at government level.
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This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’