Relief International-UK organized a two-day long training workshop on the prospects of cultural ecotourism in the Sundarbans region between 16-17 June 2014 at the conference room of the Christian Service Society Ava Center in Khulna, as part of the two-year long project “Promotion of Local Culture in the Sundarbans Impact Zone in Bangladesh through Cultural Ecotourism and Entrepreneurship.” The workshop was graced by the presence of senior officials of the Forest Department, members of local communities, local tour operators, eco-tour entrepreneurs, international organizations (INGOs), non-government organizations (NGOs) and representatives from the business sector.
The workshop was attended by more than 45 participants and was divided into five segments. The opening segment comprised the inaugural and welcome speech, an orientation of program plan and an overall objective of the ecotourism project implemented by Relief International-UK. In the main workshop presentation, facts, current status and prospective of ecotourism in Bangladesh were discussed; ecotourism was discussed as a vector for cultural and socioeconomic development, and environmental conservation (on the basis of community participation) and case studies from Bangladesh, India and Nepal were also discussed. More specifically, the current state of ecotourism in the Sundarbans mangrove forest region, scope and prospects of ecotourism in the Sundarbans region, identification of tourism & hospitality services and the role of ecotourism in sustainable economic development and conservation of biodiversity were also discussed. The third segment was an open discussion regarding cultural ecotourism among all the workshop participants, followed by group work (the fourth segment) and the closing session. At the end of the training workshop, many recommendations were made by the participants.