In a bid to tackle the growing number of local and foreign tourists, the forest department is set to construct four new tourist spots in the Sundarbans.
"Besides the construction of these new tourist zones, the existing ones will be renovated and modernised," said Moinuddin Khan, chief forest officer of Khulna division.
"We hope the new ecotourism zones will contribute significantly to attract more local and foreign tourists to the world's largest mangrove forest."
The construction works on the Tk25-crore project will start in July this year and are likely to be completed by December 2023, Moinuddin added.
The project awaits approval from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism.
Besides, there is a plan to construct an Interpretation Centre in Katka, a forest department official said.
Thousands of tourists visit the Sundarbans every year. There are seven eye-catching eco-friendly tourist spots in the forest area. These are at Kamomjol, Harbaria, Kotka, Kochikhali, Dublar Char, Nil Kamol (Hiron Point), and Kolagachia.
The new four tourist spots will be at Shekhertek, Alibanda, Kalabagi, and Koilashganj. There will be watchtowers, hanging bridges, full trails for walking, round room for sitting, and pontoon for getting on and off from waterways.
There are small rest houses in Katka and Kalagachhia, however, tourists prefer Karomjal and Harbaria tourist spots as it takes comparatively less time to reach there.
In the last fiscal year (2018-19), more than 90,000 tourists visited these seven spots. Among them, 500 were foreigners. The government earned Tk1.52 crore in revenue from tourism in the Sundarbans.
The forest department hopes tourists will be able to come to the Sundarbans in the morning and go back in the evening, after the new four tourist zones are built. As a result, the number of tourists is expected to increase further.
Besides this, the Sundarbans authority has taken another initiative to avoid any damage in the Sundarbans and also to make the experience of the tourists better.
Specialised teachers from Jahangirnagar University are conducting a survey to determine how many tourists the forest can accommodate at a time. After the survey is complete, a certain number of tourists will be allowed as per the capacity.
The survey will determine the number of tiger, deer, boar, monkey and various types of other animals and birds in line with the capacity of the forest, said a forest department official.