Author: Samia Tamrin Ahmed

Area of Work: Sustainable Development Sdgs And Green Growth

This is a short outlook on the linkages of SDG goals that address sustainable tourism and the way forward for this sector in Bangladesh

Sustainable tourism may be defined as “Tourism that meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future” (UNWTO). The challenge is to find a favorable balance between tourism and conservation. Ecotourism receives increasing policy attention as countries around the world are gearing up for realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN. A commendable example of successful ecotourism is the Galapagos Islands, one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Galapagos Marine Reserve was established by presidential declaration in 1986 to encompass conservation and protection of the underwater biospheres of the Galapagos. [1]

Unlike India, Bangladesh is comparatively an off the beaten track destination. Tourists who choose to visit the country are likely to have genuine curiosity about the land and people, which offers an opportunity to promote responsible and sustainable form of tourism in the country. The government is expected to incorporate the SDG goals in policies and legislation.  Goals 8, 12 and 14 consider areas where tourism plays an important factor.

Goal 8 is all about enhancing inclusive and sustainable economic growth and productive employment.  Decent work for all is also under the same agenda.  The direct contribution of tourism on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country includes the spending by residents or non-residents on leisure services and government expenditure on service industries linked to visitors, such as parks, museums and other attractions. New investment in eco-tourism can involve local beneficiaries including local craftsmen to focus on conservation as well as empowerment. The eco-tourism sector would offer employment opportunities for properly trained and skilled workers, but eco-tourism needs to be more affordable for ordinary people rather than being a luxury for the elite.

Goal 12 relates to sustainable consumption and production patterns. Research and innovation is required to promote cleaner, recyclable products – in simple aspects such as jute packaging, organic soaps in resorts, etc. We are far behind in generating mass awareness about sustainable production and consumption. Stories of the weavers/pottery community featured on labels of souvenir products will foster meaningful purchase that can provide economic opportunities. This means, a visitor who picks up a souvenir made with natural dye can read about the sustainable cottage industry in short. A name and a story on a label on the product can give a face to the source of the product, where one purchase contributes to the livelihood of a community.

Goal 14, with its focus on protecting marine ecosystem, is also important for Bangladesh. Sustainable tourism around ecological sites can aim to trickle down funds to protect our rivers, coastlines and the community of people who survive by a healthy marine ecosystem. An example from Panama/Colombia is quite interesting in this regard. The Lost Beach Sustainable Living Project[2] – a part of Buena Onda Water Sports Company – has the objective to nurture a holistic sense of community (on three levels) and set an example of sustainability and cooperation. The communities in question are: owners, investors, partners and staff of the sustainable tourism project (primary), volunteers and people who participate with eco-shares and co-housing units (secondary) and environmental groups and green technology companies which are involved in collaborative efforts (tertiary). Better planning to foster sensible tourism around our environment and water resources and productive linkages with stakeholders of the three layers of community explained above will be crucial.

The private sector, inclSlide1uding the Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs), could explore opportunities for investing in the eco-tourism value chain to strengthen sustainability and
project the country in an environment-friendly manner. They can target travelers who prefer to be green consumers, are conscious of social justice concerns, sensitive to local cultures, aware of environmental issues, andwish to leave a positive impact on the places they travel. Green growth in the tourism sector can help protect our natural resources and local cultures. Policy makers and government agencies have to adopt global best practices and promote innovations. SMEs stand to play a critical role in tapping the eco-tourism market that minimizes environmental impact of tourism, respects local culture and lifestyles, generates direct financial benefits for conservation and in the process creates authentic and meaningful experiences to the traveler of today.


[1] Case Study Galapagos:

[2] Lost Beach Project:


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