Securing the Future of Bangladesh’s World Heritage Wonder

water and sunset in Bangladesh
by Chris Adams
Head of Research & Insights

The Sundarbans region of Bangladesh is home to the world’s largest remaining Mangrove Forest, two World Heritage sites and the critically endangered, regal Bengal Tiger.

Bangladesh is a country smaller than the state of Georgia in the U.S. but has a population of 163 million. In one of the world’s most densely populated nations, the Sundarbans is the largest and most important remaining natural area, a wilderness hosting boundless flora & fauna. The Bengal Tiger is the most iconic– but the region is also home to hundreds of bird species (including the largest variety of Kingfishers in the world) and the unique Ganges and Irawadi dolphins. It is also the critical barrier to the ocean’s encroachment from Climate Change in one of the world’s lowest lying nations.

Miles Partnership is supporting the development of this iconic region as part of a sustainable tourism project with USAID and the Government of Bangladesh, coordinated and led by our partners at Solimar International. Miles is a partner in the Bangladesh Ecotourism and Conservation Alliance (BECA) that is working to protect and enhance the natural values of the Sundarbans and the communities that surround it through the development of responsible, sensitive and sustainable tourism.

It is a treasured and irreplaceable natural jewel of a nation – and the world.

The Sundarbans are also a center piece of Bangladesh’s plans to develop international tourism, currently just 3% of tourism in the country that totaled almost $10 billion USD in 2019 (World Travel & Tourism Council). Tourism is a sector with enormous potential to secure the economic future for the millions who inhabit its bordering regions of Southern Bangladesh, without the need to hunt, gather and poach in the park.


screenshots of Sundarbans Google search

Miles’ role is in building the digital capability and presence of the region, both the quality and accuracy of information available online and the digital skills of the industry. This includes work to ensure the major digital platform including Google Maps, Google Search, Google Business Profiles, Facebook, TripAdvisor and others have accurate and complete information on what is a little known international destination. Fresh and updated Google Street View will be collected in key visitor areas that have been overlooked to both update and enhance the digital maps and related information for the region.

This USAID project in Bangladesh builds on Miles’ similar digital capability work in more than 250 destinations around the world; first in helping implement the Google DMO Partnership Program with DMOs from AlUla in Saudi Arabia, New Mexico in the U.S. and the island nation of Samoa – a set of services more recently expanded into “Destination Optimization”.

The development of tourism in the Sundarbans region is being carefully considered and planned. The BECA partners are collaborating closely with the Bangladesh Forest Service, Bangladesh Tourism Board, local communities, businesses, universities, and NGOs. This is all in a process that is drawing on global examples and best practices on how best to carefully develop and manage tourism that is truly sustainable, responsible and ultimately, regenerative.

In such a critical natural region of the world, tourism is not only built on creating sustainable businesses but is completely reliant on preserving and enhancing the natural and community values of this truly iconic region: the Sundarbans of Bangladesh.

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