Sundarbans tourism gets more expensive as government doubles tax
DOULOT AKTER MALA |
March 05, 2022 08:43:42
Mar 05, 2022 4:24:09 p.m.
Tourism in the Sundarbans is now said to be more expensive than before as the government doubled its tax after a decade.
All royalty and non-tax revenue rates have been increased on average for tourists and their boats as well as timber, fish, honey, wax, crab, cane, shells and other forest products from mangrove.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change recently published a notice in the Official Gazette, making the new tariffs and fees effective from February 26, 2022.
Speaking to the FE, DoE Chief Conservator of Forests, Khulna Mihir Kumar said tax rates had been revised upwards after a decade, given government resource constraints.
He said the field offices have already started implementing the revised tax rates along with the new fees and charges.
He said, however, that 15% VAT would also apply to service charges.
The decision to increase the tax rates was taken on December 26, 2021 by the non-tax revenue, cash and credit management department of the finance department.
Tax rates for Sundori, Pashur, Kakra, Kaora, Bain, Geoya, Dhundol have been set based on their respective widths.
For Honey, Wax, Golpata, Goran, Shell, Grass, Cane, Fish, Hetal and other flammable forest products, the tax would be imposed per quintal.
Fishermen who live in boats, launches or trawlers must also pay a minimum tax.
For the tourist rowboat, the trawler, the speedboat, the boat, the tax rates have been doubled for a single registration and a renewal for one year.
For entertainment tours, the tax rate would be three to four times higher for unregistered boats than for registered boats.
In case of staying more than one day in the Sundarbans, there would be taxes per day for tourist ships.
The tax rate is higher in the sanctuary than a normal forest visit.
Tourists must count the taxes with the entrance fee and the video camera. Tax rates for researchers, students and children under 12 are lower than others.
To visit the Sundarbans, local tourists have to pay a travel fee of Tk 150 while it is Tk 2,000 for foreigners.
In the sanctuary, the non-tax income for each foreign tourist is Tk 3,000 per day while it is Tk 300 for a local tourist.
Government declared shrines in the Sundarbans include Kotka, Kachikhali, Nilkamal, Hironpoint, Notabeki, Pushpakathi, Mandarbaria and Haldebunia.
The number of tourists has increased in the Sundarbans in recent times. Last year, some 160,000 tourists visited the Sundarbans despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, tour operators fear that tourist numbers will decline due to these rising costs as they are already struggling to manage package fees since the rise in diesel prices.
Tour operator Zannatul Ferdousi Manu, administrator of Jhatika Safar, said domestic tourism is becoming more expensive day by day due to rising different kinds of unusual costs.
“We had to cancel some tour plans this year for exorbitant costs. A middle-income family often finds it hard to afford 45,000-50,000 Tk for a nationwide tour,” she said.
In the gazette notification, income rates have also been revised upwards for worshipers heading to Dublar Char Rush Mela.