Cox’s Bazar is the worlds longest uninterrupted natural beach. It is more than 100 kilometers long and is considered to be one of the most beautiful tourist spots in Bangladesh where everyone speaks the Bengali language.

But the coastal bay is so long it has hardly had the opportunity to become as overcrowded as the Pattaya region in Thailand and Galle in Sri Lanka – stlll, that’s not to say the area is not under threat.
The Bangladeshi government has put plans on it’s drawing board to make Cox’s Bazaar a hot spot on the international tourist map. It is planned by 2015 two Raddison hotels, a Best Western and a few Movenpick Hotels & Resorts will be opened up in the area with many more hotel groups planning to build more.

The government hopes to earn more than $5bn from tourism over the next ten years by attracting more visitors both from home and abroad. They plan to double to number of foreign tourists to almost a million by 2021 – in hopes that it will help generate at least half a million jobs.

This tropical paradise may very well be on it’s way to become much like the ever-so-frequently visited over-populated concreted resorts similar to those found in Spain and Bulgaria.

Public consern

Environmental Campaigner Professor Mushtaq Ahmed warned the whole area is being developed in an unplanned way which is even more frightening than crowds of people.

“The beach area has been encroached and hundreds of buildings have come up there creating a negative influence on the environment,” said Prof Ahmed.

Mr Ahmed blames hotels, government buildings and shops for building without proper planning permission.

Other environmentalists are concerned that if the recently illegally built buildings are not removed soon – the beauty of the area will be lost forever.

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Despite having been issued a court order last year to remove all unauthorised buildings from the beach, hundreds of buildings and shops remain and nothing has been done about the dire situation. Demolition is a slow process which may take years and will not be a pretty sight to say the least.

There are other issues as a result of the growing tourism in the area.

“Trees are being cut indiscriminately on the hillside and lands are also cleared to make way for buildings,” Prof Ahmed said.

“As a result, we witness frequent landslides during monsoon period killing many people.”
A daunting thought.

Furthermore, the marine environment is also under threat. Many activists claim tourists take coral home as souvenirs and traders and locals therefore collect these corals and sea shells to sell to visitors. The pollution is also not unnoticed. Empty packaging and plastic water bottles can be seen everywhere.

Tourism is not necessarily a bad thing however it should be done correctly. Bulgaria is a prime example of how beautiful dense green forest sea resorts have been destroyed in the name of the economy.

Gone are the days where people would be able to relax among green scenery and swim in clear, pollution-free water. In my opinion, places of paradise should be left untouched – like in Australia – where the most beautiful of places cannot be inhabited but can only be used as temporary camp sites.

What Bangladesh decides to do is of course solely up to the government and how it sees fit for its future – it is incredible however, that so many activists chose to shed light on these sort of unnoticed yet increasingly important issues.