Resort Development and Environmental Concerns: A Case of Cox’s Bazar Region, Bangladesh

Introduction

The challenges of environmental damage, social dislocation, as well as economic non-sustainability brought about by extensive and rapid resort development might imply that the foundation for greater sustainability is in the setting limits to urbanization as well as altering the government regulation in the planning for tourism. It is important to note that tourism is a vital sector to the development of economy of any country. However, tourism is directly linked to the environment. The quality and sustainability of the environment, either man-made or natural, is crucial to the tourism development. We should note nonetheless that the interrelationship of the environment and tourism is complex (Chu, 2014). Resort development involves a wide spectrum of activities that pose adverse environmental effects. Majority of these impacts are related to the construction and development of general infrastructure such as roads, resorts, shops, golf courses, restaurants, as well as other tourism facilities. The negative impacts of resort tourism development can gradually destruct environmental resources on which it is subject to. Contrary, resort development has the potential to enhance beneficial effects on the environment through contribution to environmental conservation and protection (Ahmed, 2016). Resort development can act as a way to raise awareness of the environmental virtues as well as being instrumental in financing the protection of natural sites and enhancing their economic significance.

Tourism, particularly resorts in Cox’s Bazar town, is one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy of Bangladesh and it is imbued with substantial environmental, social, cultural, and economic effects, both negative and positive. It is pertinent to note that resort tourism can be instrumental in economic development, however, in the event that it is not planned properly, it can have adverse effects on the pristine environments and biodiversity. Subsequently, this can lead to the misuse of natural resources such as marine life, forests, and freshwater (Forsyth, 1997). At a number of sites in Bangladesh, resort tourism development has led to acute water shortage consequently affecting the local community and industry, as well as depletion of forests and damaging of coral reefs. The inauspicious impacts that resort development do have on the local environment serves to undermine the fundamental resource for tourism in the coastal areas such as Cox’s Bazar, and heavily affecting the non-tourist economic activities. There is need to plan, manage and undertake resort development in a manner that is environmentally sustainable, economically viable, and socially beneficial in a bid to reduce the adverse impacts (Chu, 2014).

Geo-economic Background of Resort Tourism in Cox’s Bazar- Bangladesh

There are five major players in Bangladesh tourism industry namely; tourists, travel agencies and service providers, tourism site developers, public management institutions, and illegal tourism operators. Prior to tourists traveling to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, they can be considered to be potential tourist with financial capacity and motivation to travel to Bangladesh. Potential tourists are deemed to be a stock. The stock rises when more individuals are attracted to Bangladesh and consequently reduced when the potential tourists either drop the idea of travel ling to Bangladesh or make the decision to travel to Bangladesh (Sharma, 2011). It is important to note therefore that the stock has one rate of inflow and two rates of outflow. The proportion of actual tourists from the potential tourists is majorly subject to the perception of attractiveness of Bangladesh resorts as well as the availability of infrastructure and services (Ahmed, 2016).

Cox’s Bazar town in Bangladesh carries the hotel and motel zone, marine drive, the Himchari picnic spot, dense conditions of living for the local community, hills ranges, resorts, and a few roadside industries. Bangladesh is situated handily, on the east-west corridor rendering it a gateway to the Far East and it is imbued with enormous resources and potential useful for a highly developed as well as differentiated tourism industry. In looking at the panoramic view of Cox’s Bazar, there is need to consider its Geo-economic importance ensuing from its strategic location between its vast border with Myanmar, Chittangong Hill Districts, and an exceptional port gateway to the eastern provinces of India and southern provinces of China. Tourism in Bangladesh is managed and regulated by the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) which operates under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism (Ahmed, 2016).

Cox’s Bazar is considered the tourist capital of Bangladesh majorly due to its scenic appearance. It is a sea beach with attractive waves of grand Bay of Bengal. The major tourist attractions of Cox’s Bazar include stretches of golden sands, surfing waves, Buddhist temples, towering cliffs, pagodas conch shells, and seafood (Ahmed, 2016). The region has had a number of environmental concerns emanating from poor waste management, excessive crowds and congestions, unplanned construction of resorts and hotels, and security issues.

Resort Tourism Sustainability in Cox’s Bazar

Being the world’s longest natural sandy sea beach and being one of the most frequented tourist destinations in the region, Cox’s Bazar is currently under threat. About two decades ago, the beach town was considered a quiet and it fascinated majority of Bangladeshis who sought to escape the noise as well as pollution of other major cities. However, currently there has been unplanned growth and development in Cox’s Bazar. The Bangladeshi government is considering to double the number of international tourists to approximately a million by the year 2021 (Sharma, 2011). This will without doubt put pressure on the beach town as resort developers seek new sites for development and construction. The entire area is invariably changing as resorts together with high-rise hotels, cottages, and restaurants are mushrooming in every part of the town particularly near the beach (Rabbany, 2013).

Consequently, garbage can be encountered in many parts of the town which is compromising the environmental beauty. It is important to note that local people and resort developers are not keen on the environment as they fell down trees indiscriminately on the hillside leading to landslides during monsoon seasons (Chu, 2014). Experts have established that deforestation, overfishing on salt fields, hill cutting and grabbing of land from local people for unplanned resort construction together with unplanned tourism management is encouraging the degradation of the ecosystem, consequently threatening the environment and wildlife.

Having declared 2016 as the “Visit Bangladesh Year”, the government seeks to support potential tourism activities in the country in a bid to increase the tourist inflow with a growth of about 15 percent (Ahmed, 2016). To attain this target, the tourism industry players ought to improve their products, protect the wildlife and the environment, raise awareness against crime, prostitution and drugs, enhance service standards, promote marketing, provide information, formulate effective communication, as well as increase tourism packages in a sustainable way. The concept of sustainable resort tourism development does not only revolve around the environmental aspects but also social, cultural, economic, managerial, and political aspects. This follows from the fact that long-term strategy is crucial such that planning ans management of sustainable resort tourism ought to be befitting in a way that sustainable resort development is an objective of all policies. (Chu, 2014)

There is need to check and regulate all stakeholders and players as well as involve them in resort development decision making processes through informing them on all apposite development concerns instrumental in effecting sustainable resort and tourism development. There is need, therefore, to reduce the negative impacts on the environment besides having a good concept of target market in a bid to achieve design innovation, authenticity, cost-benefit balance, and development of social and economic welfare for local people. Importantly, there is need to introduce community value, enhance local capacity, respect and preserve natural and cultural values for purposes of delivering mutual benefits to tourists and locals (Sharma, 2011). Additionally, reducing water and energy consumption should be accentuated as a fundamental principal in sustainable resort development.

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is undoubtedly one of the most vital elements of resort development, primarily the natural, physical environment and its safeguarding. Environmental sustainability is considered to be the ensuring of resources are well-maintained and preserved for utilization by the future generations (Forsyth, 1997). Resort developers have an obligation to consider the environment carefully in a bid to safeguard it particularly the natural environment and its protection. To illustrate, wildlife is a main tourist attraction all over the globe but tourism and resort development is evidently harmful to the wildlife due to destruction of habitats, disturbance of breeding habits, affecting feeding habits, and fires in the woodland. Resort development certainly make use of a wide spectrum of natural resources. Such resources include clean water, lakes, rivers, beaches, mountain areas, and natural woodland (Honggang & Jigang, 2000). Natural environment is invariably affected by resort development following the fact that there are very few natural landscapes left for the development of the resorts. It should be understood, that resort development is harmful to the natural environment due to the fact that it alters the natural environment.

There is need, therefore, for the Bangladeshi government and the resort developers to consider various actions aimed at protecting the natural environment as well as the wildlife due to their value as tourism resources. Motivation is instrumental particularly in developing nations since if the resort developers fail to motivate the government agencies, there is likelihood of more harm to wildlife and natural environment (Ahmed, 2016). The local communities have a responsibility to create awareness of environmental concerns and they ought to push for environmental protection.

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability can be regarded as the capability of an economy to indefinitely sustain a given level of economic production. Resort tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in globe. When resort developers consider sustainability, they do not put into account the economic sustainability as a fundamental aspect while it is a key feature of ensuring that the resort business is more sustainable (Chu, 2014). Economic sustainability is key for the regional development in majority of developing nations and it is vital in ensuring poverty reduction, economic progress, as well as motivation of new economic frontiers.

Resort tourism has a positive influence on the gross income and production of a country, employment, although it may pose negative impacts on the environment (Sharma, 2011). It is vital to note, that uncontrolled and unplanned resort development cannot sustain maximum profits in the long term. Securing the environment ensures further economic sustainability of the resort tourism industry (Honggang & Jigang, 2000). Economic sustainability calls for building linkages as well as reducing leakages and wastes.

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability involves the quality of life as well as the capability of a social system to enhance processes and arrangements which accomplish the prerequisites and needs of its members besides supporting the capability of future generations in a bid to safeguard a healthy society at a standard social well-being level. There are various social and cultural impacts on tourism zones due to the influence of visiting tourists. The behavior of tourists visiting the resorts may have detrimental effects on the quality of life of the host society (Rabbany, 2013). Some of the negative impacts include prostitution, increased levels of crime, drugs and alcohol problems, congestion and crowding. Resort development may also invade the rights and privacy of the locals when they are displaced in a bid to create new resorts and other amenities (Chu, 2014). There is need to encourage positive cultural exchange and preserving local culture and traditions for purposes of encouraging social sustainability.


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