Promoting Navigational Usage of Inland Waterways in Ganga and Brahmaputra Basins

Conceptual plan for integrating community-based tourism along the Bangladesh-India protocol route for inland navigation

About the Study:

River-based tourism between India and Bangladesh has lots of prospect in this region and there has been some movement on this in the recent times, particularly with India and Bangladesh signing a MoU on operating cross-border river cruises along protocol routes. There are wonderful potential for nature, cultural, adventure and religious tourism. There is also immense potential for nostalgia tourism for people on both sides of the border in Bangladesh and West Bengal, in India.

The tourism prospects of this region can lead to inclusive development given that tourism links and relies heavily on local natural resources, culture, cuisine, art, and history to draw tourists. This, in turn, promises enhanced livelihood and economic opportunities for local people as well as external agencies. In a nutshell, tourism has the potential to effectively connect to building people-to-people connectivity, trust and inclusive economic prosperity.

With this backdrop, CUTS intends to do a brief study on possibilities for Kolkata-Dhaka river cruise tourism.

Goals and Objectives:

Specific objectives of the study will include:

  • Identify and study the possible and most feasible route (likely to be the already identified Kolkata – Haldia – Raimingal – Mongla – Kawkhali – Barisal – Hizla – Chandpur – Narayanganj route) of India Bnagladesh waterways to understand the following
  • Identify locations of interest (tentatively in terms of ecological, cultural, historical, adventure, religious and nostalgia factors) for tourism along and near this identified route. This will include a listing of all such places, seasons, activities, festivals, etc. that may be of interest to tourists.
  • Identify and document existing and required infrastructure at such potential locations in light of tourism development
  • Look at policies and regulations that govern navigability along the route and understand what changes may be needed.
  • Identify opportunities and challenges for operating river cruise tourism in the identified route. This will include issues like navigability (to be ascertained through available government data and rigorous interaction with local knowledge resources (particularly boatmen and sarengs), embarkation spots and their existing infrastructure, links from river to nearest place of interest,
  • Briefly understand the impact of river cruise tourism on political-economy factors at the local level, including developing local livelihood opportunities linked to such tourism along the identified route.

Project Area:

Kolkata – Haldia – Raimongal – Mongla – Kawkhali – Barisal – Hizla – Chandpur – Narayanganj route) of India-Bangladesh waterways


March 2018 – June 2018


A comprehensive field work has been undertaken to understand the feasibility and potential of developing community based river cruise tourism along the Indo-Bangla protocol route through Sundarbans. This involved multi-stakeholder perception analysis through structured questionnaire survey of stakeholders including government officials, entrepreneurs, people’s representatives, opinion leaders, subject experts, civil society organizations and media. Key informant interviews of relevant stakeholders also helped to understand the impact of tourism development on local livelihood generation.

Expected outcomes :-

The study will result in the following outcomes:

  • Better understanding on Kolkata-Dhaka river route(s) and locations of tourism potential along the route
  • Better understanding on the policy, infrastructure, facilities and political-economy related challenges that will need to be addressed to promote tourism
  • Overall understanding on the impact of river cruise tourism along the identified route on local livelihood and hence the ownership of such tourism by the local people (crucial for successful implementation)
  • Better understanding by private players interested in river cruise operation on feasibility, opportunities and challenges along this route