Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day of Departure

Preparations for the 24 hour flight to Bangladesh seemed so much easier this time. The idea of doing an assignment with 3 weeks in country, 5-6 weeks back in the office, and 3 weeks in country again is working out beautifully! I needed only a few new items for the trip, a better bag for carrying my notebook, camera, and binoculars, some new long-sleeve shirts, and toothpaste. I am all packed!

In Bangladesh, I am excited to see all the action on the ground! The draft Teknaf Community-Based Nature Tourism Strategy is now being circulated to our leadership, and we have also sent it to a leading economist whom we collaborate with and the head of the most prominent tour operator, Guide Tours. I have invited both to speak at the workshop which will take place next Monday and Tuesday. Over 36 students are now enrolled and we expect more. I set a cap at 50.

The invitation lists for our stakeholder meetings on the Teknaf Peninsula came yesterday for my review. We are having one public meeting, for high ranking leadership in the tourism community, Forest Department, Department of Environment, and local municipal leaders on March 18, and a community based meeting the following day- with the heads of the Community Management Committee for the Teknaf Game Reserve. Our team will work closely with the high ranking leadership and communities to be sure our strategy is fine tuned to the needs of both groups.

Here at home, my friend Sue and I measured ourselves for some Salwar Kameezes! I bought two of these beautiful outfits in ready to wear stores in Dhaka on the last trip. Both are cotton, very breathable, lovely and so comfortable! So this time, I am going to a seamstress to have one more made for myself and for Sue! We should be real fashion plates this summer for events in Burlington!

I took my dog, Tucker for a long farewell walk this morning, did my workout, downloaded some new music for my ipod and an audiobook for the journey, and was fortunate to do a very engaging interview for a new ecotourism magazine being launched in Canada! The interview was great fun, the writers are both tourism academics with lots of experience in the field. We agreed so much that our field needs to grow and expand. It is my hope that more students and professionals will be trained in every aspect of developing ecotourism destinations in future.

This blog is an important way to get the word out on how important this profession is to countries, like Bangladesh. Will update the blog again from Dhaka!

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