Pioneering an Innovative Approach to Tourism Development in Munlai Para, Bandarban

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The Munlai Community-Based Tourism Development Initiative was launched in Munlai Para, Bandarban Hill District in Bangladesh on 21 September 2017 as part of an effort to promote sustainable tourism in Bandarban. 

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tract Affairs (MOCHTA) are leading the effort.

The initiative was conceived in December 2016 when partners representing ICIMOD, the Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate change Adaptation in the Himalaya (Himalica) Bandarban, and Base Camp (an outdoor Bangladeshi camp offering on-tree and on-ground challenges) first met. The Munlai Para Community forged a long-term partnership with ICIMOD, MOCHTA, Base Camp, and the Bandarban Hill District Council (BHDC) as a result of the meeting. Over the course of nine months, representatives from all concerned organizations participated in a series of meetings, field visits, and technical knowledge transfer and  handholding sessions to set up the Munlai Community-Based Tourism Development Initiative.

This initiative aims to address the multiple sustainable tourism development needs of Munlai Para in Bandarban such as infrastructure, facilities, business/entrepreneurship development, market linkages, and collaborative management. It also aims to conserve nature, respect and promote local culture, and ensure sustained tourism growth.

Within the conceptualization of Himalica’s Tourism Pilot Project, the initiative is based on a public-private partnership model designed to demonstrate the adoption of innovative practices of community-based tourism through the co-management of development interventions and social entrepreneurship building. It aims to improve the lives and livelihoods of 54 households in Munlai Para and provide opportunities to members from all households to engage in tourism-based income generating activities. 

The second phase of the Himalica tourism pilot project in Bandarban has effectively begun with the official launching of the Munlai Community-Based Tourism Development Initiative. During the next eight months, all partners—BHDC, Munlai Community Tourism Co-Management Committee and Base Camp—will come together to implement planned activities. The focus will be on implementing tourism development interventions and strengthening capacities and partnership.

Representatives including Shariful Islam, Officer In-Charge, Ruma Thana Police; Shariful Houque, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Ruma upazila; Aung Thai Ching Marma, Ruma Upazila Chairman; Jewel Bawm, Councilor and Convener of Tourism Department, Bandarban Hill Development Council (BHDC); Mohammad Shahidul Alam, CEO Himalica; Tamzid Siddiq Spondon, Managing Director, Base Camp; Anu K Lama, Tourism Specialist, ICIMOD; and Lal Nun Muan Bawm, Chairman and Advisor, Munlai Co-Management Committee attended the launch event. Flags representing Bangladesh, Bandarban, Base Camp, and the Munlai Community were unveiled during the official launch.