Bangladesh tour

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2019: 29 Nov
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Bangladesh tour

Environment

This tour travels through the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest. We strive to ensure that we leave this area as we find it and that our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns.

The Sundarbans is under threat not only from the encroaching human population but from hunting and trapping of wildlife, overexploiting trees for timber and cutting and lopping trees for fuelwood and to make charcoal. Also, shrimp fry are being collected at unsustainable levels and mangrove forests are cut and cleared to make way for shrimp grow-out ponds. All of these things contribute to degradation and habitat loss. We hope that in visiting the Sundarbans, it will demonstrate to locals that the area is worth protecting and will encourage them to do so as the Sundarbans brings tourists into Bangladesh and therefore, money into the local economy. Entry fees to the Sundarbans are used towards conservation efforts.

In conjunction with our local team we work with the guesthouses, cruise boats and hotels to help them to implement best practice in terms of environmental issues, from energy conservation to waste disposal. We also help to educate local guides and drivers about how not to negatively impact upon the areas visited. Western norms with regards to this can be quite different from local concepts, so this can be a challenge but we are keen to play our part in the development of environmentally sensitive tourism within this region.

In addition, when exploring any landscapes on foot, we make sure that we stick to whatever tracks there may be.

Community

As with many of the trips that we offer, this tour has a strong focus on local culture and different ethnic groups. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence. This trip includes some nights staying in locally run guesthouses, which provide employment for people from the remote communities we travel through, often in areas where little alternative for employment exists. We do this in Ruma in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Ruma is home to the Bawm people and is very different to the rest of the country in the way of customs and cultures.

The fact that some of these areas are relatively isolated means that it is important to behave appropriately. We do not wish to change the traditions of the people that live here which can often be a result of mass tourism, as people become more exposed to other ways of life. We operate just one group tour and a small number of private departures here, trying to balance the financial benefits of tourism with avoiding some of its negative effects.

We meet many different ethnic groups on this trip, all with their particular sets of customs. We are careful to ensure that we do not break any local taboos, and travellers are briefed on appropriate behaviour when visiting such groups. This is particularly relevant in the monasteries that we visit there are strong codes of behaviour here and Buddhist principles are deeply revered, so our travellers are explained how to behave respectfully.

We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country.

Where possible we encourage our travellers to spend their money with local businesses; for this reason we do not include meals where it is feasible to eat outside of the hotels, in order that local restaurants are able to benefit from the presence of tourism, rather than the income being channelled just to the hotel.

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