Tourists throng Sundarbans as govt withdraw ban
KHULNA, Sept 4, 2021 (BSS) - Tourists have started to visit Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, from September 1 after a five-month-long closure because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
Earlier, the Forest Department announced that tourists will be able to enter every tourist spot inside the forest from November 1, 2020, as the infections of coronavirus significantly reduced.
The Forest Department made the decision after holding a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Forests and Environment on August 29 in a view to gear up Sundarbans-centric tourism industry as well as feeling a sense of relief ahead of the upcoming tourist season.
According to the Forest Department, to prevent the spread of Covid-19, a temporary shutdown was imposed from March 19 over the entire Sundarbans for tourists, boats and villagers, adjacent to Sundarbans, who are dependent on the forest.
Talking to BSS, General Secretary of Tour Operator Association of Sundarbans Nazmul Azam Devid said tourists have started to visit Sunderbans from September 1.
Earlier, tour operators completed their necessary preparations and many of them have opened tour pre-bookings after banning closure, he said, adding that some vessels (Launch) and Ships begin towards Sundarbans tourist spots every day.
Deputy Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Begum Habibun Nahar said the government has reopened Sundarbans thinking about the well-being of tour operators and stakeholders who are dependent on the forest.
“Tour Operators have been asked to board not over 75 tourists of each vessel and maintain social distance and health guidelines, set up by the government,” she said. Security measures will be taken during Sundarban visit and tourists have been asked to maintain health guidelines, she added.
During the peak season – from November to March every year – more than 50,000 tourists stay in the nine tourist spots of the mangrove forest.
However, the sudden ban on visiting the Sundarbans, without any prior announcement, caused trouble for the visitors of various tourist centres inside the forest.
Sundarbans (East) Divisional Forest Officer Md Belayet Hossain said today “We have received instructions in this regard.”
“Tourist operators have been asked to maintain tour and health guidelines during the Sundarbans visit,” he added.