A diversified approach and concentration on theme-based parks can give a big boost to domestic tourism, attracting more and more foreign tourists in Bangladesh.
This is an area where both private and public sectors can work together to ensure greater contributions to the national economy from the tourism sector.
“There is a need for diversification in the existing amusement parks. There can be theme-based parks, too. This will help grow the flow of domestic tourists as well as foreign tourists,” said Taufiq Rahman, Director of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB).
He said the existing amusement parks are serving domestic tourists only. “We can do something different.”
Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) also sees potential in boosting the tourism sector through amusement parks. “If we can do this in a more sophisticated way, we can attract greater number of domestic as well as foreign tourists,” said BTB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nikhil Ranjan Roy.
Making a pointed reference to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park, he said this is something where both domestic and foreign tourists can visit.
Asked how the government can support private sector initiatives, Roy said the government can provide property to develop parks under public private partnership, while the private sector can give revenue to the government against the use of public property.
Responding to a question, he said if the private sector wants any support from BTB for importing equipment with some facilities, they will forward those proposals to Customs Department to take steps as per law.
An official at the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry said tourism is the fastest growing sector greatly contributing to the generation of foreign exchange and employment across the world.
Accordingly, he said, the government is giving much importance to the sector and emphasising development of tourism in Bangladesh as a stronger sector to contribute to the economy.
Talking about theme-based parks, Taufiq said there can be specialised parks with the themes - flowers, butterflies, birds and waters.
“Even we can do something special engaging tribal people in Chittagong with their lifestyles and culture. These initiatives will attract both domestic and foreign tourists,” he added.
About Butterfly Park, he said the country’s first and only butterfly specialised park in Chittagong, Arifujjaman Amiree, a Bangladeshi traveller said this is a place which people will love visiting.
The park was given the National Environment Award 2018 in recognition of its outstanding contributions to the category of environmental education and promotion apart from contributions to the tourism sector.
Butterfly Park Bangladesh Ltd was established in Chittagong in 2012, with its theme, “Save the Butterfly Save the Earth”.
Many renowned foreign researchers, students and visitors visit the park every year as a different park.
The park was built under the supervision of renowned butterfly expert Dr Shafiq Haider Chowdhury. Environmental green design has been kept in all the Landscape, Installation and Structures in the park. The park was the first and only living butterfly park among the SAARC countries when it was inaugurated.
Some 33 species of butterflies have been able to breed at different times in the park. Among the breed butterflies more than 8,000 of the 17,000 have been released in open environment. In the park there are butterfly friendly 2000 trees of 250 species and ecologically helpful gardens. The park has been decorated with some themes - museums, archives, laboratories, Fern Land, Education Area, Kids Zone, Safari Zone and Lakeside Area.
TOAB Advisoe M Masud Hossain, in his recent paper, said though the name of the Ministry is Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry the key budgetary allocations go to Biman.
He laid emphasis on duty-free import of vehicles and water transports for comfortable journeys of tourists.
The TOAB adviser said the contribution of the tourism sector was 2.2 percent of the GDP in 2017 while it was supposed to be 6.2 percent in 2018.
Taufiq Rahman said the government should play a stronger role in supporting private sector to develop theme-based parks and diversify the amusement parks in the country.
He urged the government to provide tax rebate in importing equipment for amusement parks.