Although the tourism sector in the hill district of Rangamati has potential, it has not been possible to develop it attractively due to lack of proper planning.
Tourism was considered as one of the sources of income during the creation of Kaptai Lake. But according to local hoteliers, tourists are turning away from Rangamati due to lack of development and infrastructure.
The city’s DC Bangla Park, Deputy Commissioner’s Rangamati Park, Polwell Park under the supervision of the district police and Aranyak Happy Island under the supervision of the army are the most visited places in the district. Although some tourist spots have been created on private initiative, expectations are not being met due to lack of adequate facilities.
Divine Lake Island proprietor. Imtiaz Asad told the Bengali Tribune, ‘We have done some resorts on our own initiative. Although the district council has taken many initiatives to attract tourists, nothing has come to light in the last few years. At present tourists come to Rangamati and return disappointed. Because in the last 10 years there has been no change in the tourism sector.
On the way to Kaptai outside the district town, hundreds of tourists visit Asambasti Bridge, Beranna and Bargang every day. But as there is no electricity facility in these places, they have to buy fuel by running generators. For this reason, even if there is interest, no one wants to start a new business.
Former chairman of Rangamati Sadar Upazila Arun Bikash Chakma thinks that since the tourism sector is in the hands of the district council, they have to take the initiative for development. He called upon the district council to help local entrepreneurs increase their business opportunities.
According to the Hill Tracts Agreement, 33 percent of local tourism was handed over to the district council in 2014. 10 percent of the profits of the tourism corporation is to be given to the council. According to the concerned people, the development of tourism is mainly stuck in this tension.
Local entrepreneurs complained that no significant development had taken place even after the hill tourism was handed over to the district council. The district council claims that the tourism corporation has not paid any money in the last six years. Similarly, the district council has not shown much interest in building any infrastructure. Although it is allocated in the budget of the district council every year, no expenditure is made at the end of the year.
However, Rangamati Hill District Council Chairman Brish Ketu claimed, “Local tourism has been handed over in name only. It cannot be called transfer in any way. Although we were supposed to pay 10 percent dividend from tourism at the end of the year, we have not been paid a single penny since 2014. And it is not possible to spend any money outside the budget that we formulate. A separate budget is needed for the development of tourism.
The chairman mentioned that two years have passed since the district council prepared a project worth around Tk 1,200 crore to develop Rangamati as a tourist city and sent it to the hill ministry. The Hill Ministry has asked to submit a project worth Tk 300 crore. That’s how it hangs. However, he hopes, “Once the allocation is received and the work is completed, Rangamati can change for the better.”
Sunil Kanti Dey, a senior journalist in the district, said, “The development of tourism is one of the many possibilities created by Kaptai Lake. But due to lack of proper planning, it is not possible to move forward. I heard that the district council has taken a plan of Tk 1,200 crore for the development of tourism. But two years later, it still has not seen the light of day.
The veteran journalist reminded, ‘The mountains should not be cut down to promote tourism. It is important to think about developing tourism while keeping nature in order.
Meanwhile, today is World Tourism Day. But the day is limited to processions and discussion meetings in Rangamati. However, Rangamati Tourism Corporation manager Srijan Bikash Barua told the Bengali Tribune that 54 percent discount has been given on the occasion of World Tourism Day and Mujib Year.