This article is brought to you by www.bdresearch.org Eco-Tourism: An Investigation into the Conceptual Framework and Policy Requirements for its Growth in Bangladesh Golam Moinuddin* Halima Begum**
Sustainability considerations have been making ways in each and every development initiative in the last two-decades or so. In line of this trend, the concept of eco-tourism emerged and later on, turned out to be an environment friendly and economically beneficial industry taking over a considerable bulk of mass-tourism activity and offsetting some of its negativities. Such a transformation has ultimately positioned eco-tourism to be the substitute of mass-tourism in many tourist destinations. In view of such reality, this article attempts to investigate on the conceptual dynamics and benefits of eco-tourism and explores reflective state of these theoretical underpinnings on the basis of two case studies drawn from successful eco-tourist destinations. In light of such investigative out-puts, the article focuses on the prospects of eco-tourism industry and makes an effort to provide a broad policy framework for the development of the same in Bangladesh. It identifies areas of intervention required in promoting the eco-tourism industry in the country. Finally, it attempts to define and differentiate the respective roles of the private and public sectors in the flourishment and sustainable growth of the sector in the country.
Introduction Tourism industry contributes considerably to the society, economy and to the environment - either man made or natural (Harrington, 2001). Despite its positive contributions, the negativities of this industry have become quite a concern over the last couple of decades. The negative action destructs the social-norms, creates economic disparity within the native entity, attempts to impose alien culture and destroys the natural resource base slowly but in an irreversible fashion (Krippendorf, 1992). Alongside, the infrastructural requirements for this industry can be harmful for the built environment’s harmony in urban and regional context. Harrington (2001), in this regard, illustrated that unregulated development of hotels in London threatened the quality of life in the city. Krippendorf (1992) recognized that the resource base acted as the raw material for tourism sector, which through improper use and overuse, loses it’s value. This is especially true for those tourist activities that are based upon natural resources, e.g. forest camping, hunting of wild animals and river cruising are sensitive to ecosystems. The ultimate effect of such uncontrolled and profit based industry has been the slow and irreversible destruction of ecosystem’s carrying capacity. Such observations by the researchers, planners, and environmentalists have brought a shift in the tourism activities in the 1980’s. This shift has been towards alternative forms of tourism over mass-tourism that has given the way for the globalization of markets, super segmentations, new technologies and most of all, an increased sense of social and *
Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka1342, Bangladesh. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ** Lecturer, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka-1342, Bangladesh. E-mail: email@example.com
Jahangirnagar Planning Review, Vol. 2, June 2004
ecological responsibility (Fayos-Sola, 1996). The new paradigm calls for a partnership between public, private and non-profit agencies leading to a more symbiotic relationship. This sense of partnership between concerned quarters has been the key concept for the development and flourishment of ecologically or eco- friendly tourism industry in recent era. Damage to the environment by tourist activities can be minimized through...