Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Return home and write-up

The long journey to the U.S. and home is now complete!

Flying via Dubai, the transit through a variety of scenes and worlds is always of interest. From Dhaka to Dubai, I was virtually the only woman on board. All the passengers were Bengali men traveling to work in Dubai. A very quiet crowd with great decorum. The 15 hour flight out of Dubai to Washington,D.C., began at midnight, and we all slept a long time, but conversations started as we awoke. All the passengers in my area of the plane were traveling home from Baghdad. They were not military personnel, but rather private citizens working for contractors in Iraq. Interesting conversations - they all work 7 days a week for a certain period of time (I forget how many weeks) and return home for 3 weeks of R&R. This was a work-a-day crowd involved with such firms as KBR. I believe our new government may now be removing some of these actors from the scene in Iraq and elsewhere.

After a joyous return to my home and a chance to rest only briefly, and a day or two of processing mail and handling accounts, the next phase of work begins. Two reports will be written. The first, a trip report is due next week. It will supply project leaders with a set of comments on how ecotourism can be managed internally with existing programmatic staff in the field and in Dhaka. The second key report will be the draft strategy for the Teknaf Peninsula due in mid-March. Both will be full of in-depth insights, I hope, on the management of sustainable tourism in this challenging set of circumstances.

A second visit to Bangladesh is already programmed for mid-March. This visit will include a training session for local staff, and the presentation of the draft Teknaf Peninsula strategy where we will begin to help local players envision how to zone tourism into front and back country experiences, create more structured opportunities for communities to earn a living from tourism, how to include the private sector, how to create a set of experiences there that will provide a lasting legacy of sustainability - and create a vision of how tourism can become a long-term positive contributor to the this far-flung peninsula on the Bay of Bengal.

There will also be visit by boat in the Sunderbans - a world heritage natural area which is the largest mangrove wetland in the world. A multidisciplinary team will review the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for tourism there using the methodology I provide, working in advance as well as during my visit. Finally, there will be a final set of meetings with a wide variety of decision makers whom we hope to instill with a set of strong policy considerations on how the various departments we work with, Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, can coordinate and begin to establish a framework for the legal management of tourism.

Not too much of a challenge!! There is a burden of responsibility and a great sense of excitement that these assignments can help develop a foundation for a more logical and systematic approach to this vital economic development tool in future.

This blog will become inactive for a time, until mid-March. On the eve of my return to Bangladesh, the blog will begin anew and the second trip will be covered in full.


  1. I'll miss your blog and look forward to updates in March. marge

  2. Thank you for this detailed description of your reporting requirements and for documenting the experience. Ecotourism and development both are abstract to so many people, this really helps to define the concepts and show what is involved in the process.


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