Divisional forest officer of Sundarbans (west) Abu Naser Mohsin said Sundarbans has been opened to tourists, but no ship is being allowed to carry more than 50 tourists
The country's various tourist destinations including world heritage site Sundarbans reopened for tourists on Sunday after a seven-month shutdown due to Covid-19.
Tour operators said around 16-17 ships carrying 700-800 tourists entered the tourist spots of the world's largest mangrove forest.
They said through this opening of Sundarbans to tourists after a long time brought back liveliness among those involved in forest-centric tourism.
Md Amir Hosain Chowdhury, chief conservator of forests, told The Business Standard, "We have a variety of tourist spots, including mangrove forest, national park, eco-park, botanical garden and sanctuary, under the supervision of our department. All the spots where crowded gatherings are allowed have reopened under the condition of maintaining health safety guidelines."
Divisional forest officer of Sundarbans (west) Abu Naser Mohsin said Sundarbans has been opened to tourists, but no ship is being allowed to carry more than 50 tourists.
Mohammad Belayet Hossaid, DFO of Sundarbans east, said, "A set of guidelines have been issued for the tourists visiting Sundarbans. Tourists must wear masks before entering the forest. The Forest Department has asked for using hand sanitisers and maintaining social distance."
Earlier on 19 October, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Forests and Environment in a meeting decided to reopen the world heritage site to tourists ahead of the upcoming tourist season.
Forest Department's Sundarbans range sources said that in that meeting instructions were given to Sundarbans range and divisional level to reopen Sundarbans to tourists from November 1.
Tour Operators Association of Sundarbans President Md Mainul Islam Jamadder told TBS: "On the first day, 16-17 ships carrying 700-800 tourists entered the mangrove forest, strictly maintaining the health safety guidelines as per the instructions of forest department."
"All the ships have been equipped with necessary health gears including hand sanitisers, masks and soaps," he added.
Khulna Division Forest conservator (Sundarbans range) Md Mainuddin Khaled said, "Legal steps will be taken against tour operators violating health guidelines."
Earlier, on 19 March, tourist ships were prohibited in the entire Sundarbans area after pandemic made inroads into the country.
During tourism season (November to March), more or less 45,000 tourists visit the Sundarbans every day.
Meanwhile, the travellers started visiting the Lawachhara National Park of Moulvibazar, Satchhori National Park of Habiganj, Madhabkunda Falls in Moulvibazar on Sunday.
Bangladesh National Zoo at Mirpur in the capital also reopened Sunday after seven months.
Waliur Rahman, Public Relations officer of the zoo, said a number of 11,802 visitors came to the zoo on the first day of opening.
"Usually, we get 5,000 to 6,000 visitors in a day. But the number of visitors was higher than usual as people in the capital have become restless due to long shutdown," he added.
Earlier, the government also permitted reopening other tourist spots including sea beach, hilly sites and resorts after withdrawal of national holidays.
Tourism industry sources said a good number of travellers are now visiting these destinations.
Abul Kashem, general secretary of Cox's Bazar Hotel, Motel, Guest House Owners Association, said, "The tourist occupancy is very good now. In star category hotels, there are around 70%-75% tourists at present, compared to last year. But the non-star hotels are suffering from a lack of guests."
Meanwhile, travellers' presence has increased in hilly areas also as a good number of tourists are now visiting the country's hilly districts.
Moniruzzaman, manager of Hotel Hill View in Bandarban, said, "Now, we have 70%-80% booking which is more than that of the previous year. We are getting a good number of guests from last week of October."