Cross-border river tourism on selected trans-boundary river routes can lead to inclusive and sustainable development: Experts at CUTS Dialogue in Guwahati

APN News , November 1, 2021

There is a strong need to connect and acknowledge potential benefits of cross-border tourism and cruise operations between India and Bangladesh as discussed by experts at a public-private dialogue organised by CUTS International.

Transboundary-rivers based tourism and cruise operations between India and Bangladesh have an immense scope in economic, social and cultural prospects for the region in general and for the local communities, mainly women in particular. The cross-border river tourism on smaller stretches can lead to inclusive and sustainable development in both countries as networking links relies heavily on local culture, cuisine, art, and history. This can enhance economic opportunities for local communities including employment generation in the form of cruise crew, jetty operators, local tourist guides, and small boat operators and benefit the local markets to a large extent said Saurabh Kumar, Fellow, CUTS International while welcoming the participants.

This dialogue titled “Promoting Cross-border Tourism in India and Bangladesh through Trans-boundary Waterways” was organised on 29thOctober 2021 at the Lily Hotel in Guwahati, Assam, India by CUTS International in collaboration with Oxfam and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).The dialogue was attended by more than 30 high-profile dignitaries and stakeholders from Bangladesh, Bhutan and various parts of India.

The dialogue is an initiative as a part of a regional programme titled “Trans-boundary Rivers of South Asia” (TROSA), which is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), managed by Oxfam and implemented by CUTS International

Biswajit Chakraborty, Director, North-East Advisory Council, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said that it is important to capitalised tourism sector of Assam and explore waterways that offer river tourism as it will enhance livelihood opportunities of the local communities.

While delivering Special Address, Dipankar Barua, Chairman, FICCI Assam State Council and MD, Landmark Hotels said that it is important to focus of direct tourists (who landed in Dhaka/ Kathmandu to come to north-east India). He further emphasised that river tourism may generate opportunities to make travel possible even without visa and other documents. He also said that “Once the movement starts everything will fall in place”.

Mohammad Saiful Hassan, Deputy Director (Research & Planning),(Deputy Secretary), Bangladesh Tourism Board, Bangladesh said that tourism through river generates economic opportunities for MSMEs and local people that aids in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He further emphasised that travel restrictions and regulation procedures should be simplified to enhance tourism sector.

Sabyasachi Dutta, Executive Director, Asian Confluence said that the role of people is important to augment the process of enhancing tourism. He said, “It is important to build a constructive narrative by the people at the borders, by the borders, and through the borders. He further said that innovative thinking and digitalisation is necessary to connect tour operators, guides, and other stakeholders through borders.

Anuradha Goswami, Deputy Director-NE Initiative, Indian Chamber of Commerce said that e-visas and technology upgradation is important in river tourism. India along with Bangladesh, bilaterally can lead in promoting regional tourism and community.

Chinmiki Lamin, Shnongpdeng Tourism Development Society, Dawki, Meghalaya said that tour operators from both India and Bangladesh should meet to share their innovative ideas to promote effective and efficient tourism.

Akshay Jyoti Sarma, Assistant Professor, OKD Institute of Social Change and Development said that it is important to look tourism as in integration, rather in isolation. It is important to capitalise the memories of people before partition of India and Bangladesh to enhance tourism.

Kamesh Salam, Founder and CEO, South Asia Bamboo Foundation said that Sustainable tourism and Bamboo both complement each other. He further added that Bamboo eco-tourism should be adopted to attract tourists and benefit local communities.

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