Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina calls for making Islamic tourism as global brand

_A Monitor Report16 Jul, 2019 | 1704 Views|-+
Dhaka : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called to take prompt measures to make Islamic tourism as a global business brand considering its huge potential since it witnesses 8.3 percent annual growth.

She made this call while inaugurating two-day official programme to celebrate the capital Dhaka's achievement as the 'OIC City of Tourism 2019' on July 11 at Hotel Inter-Continental, Dhaka.

"The value of Islamic tourism market will increase to USD243 billion by 2021 with an annual 8.3 percent growth. So, all-out efforts and roadmap aims at promoting Islamic tourism as a global business brand is urgently required," she said.

The prime minister has also proposed allocating a separate tourist spot for the OIC member states in Cox's Bazar.

Calling upon all the OIC member states to work together for flourishing Islamic tourism, she said, "In realising our targets (to be a developed and prosperous nation), flourish of tourism sector can play an important role. In this case, Islamic tourism is the best possible area where we have the opportunity and potential to work together."

Bangladesh has been playing a significant role in upholding solidarity and unity among the Muslims following Islamic values of fraternity, justice, cohesion and inclusion as a whole since Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman joined the second OIC conference in 1974, the premier said.

Referring to a report, that forecasted tremendous potential of Islamic tourism, the Premier said, "Muslim populations globally spent a total of USD151 billion on travel in 2015 (excluding Hajj and Umrah). Of the amount, OIC member states contributed to USD109 billion."

By 2020, the world's Muslim population will be 26 percent of the entire world population while the number of Muslim tourists will rise to 180 million from 156 million within that year, she mentioned.

Urging the OIC member states to encourage their private sector entities in tourism infrastructure and development projects, the prime minister said, "I hope appropriate steps will be taken in order to promote intra-OIC tourism through easing visa for investment promotion, branding, standardisation and capacity building."

Sheikh Hasina said tourism was the fastest-growing sector greatly contributing to the generation of foreign exchange and employment across the world.

"There's an urgent need to flourish our tourism sector (to attain our development targets). In this case, Islamic tourism is the best possible area where we've the opportunity and potentials to work together," she said.

The prime minister said she strongly believed that OIC member states could encourage their private sector entities to invest individually and jointly in tourism infrastructure and development projects.

"Taking appropriate steps is very essential in order to promote intra-OIC tourist flows through easing visa, and for investment promotion, branding and standardisation and capacity building," she added.

Noting that Islamic economy has flourished as a new phenomenon now, Hasina said halal foods, Islamic finance, halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and halal tourism are some of the growing sectors of the Islamic economy.

"For flourishing of these sectors, enhanced cooperation and partnerships of both public and private sectors of the OIC member states are needed," she added.

About Bangladesh's tourism sector, the prime minister emphasised flourishing its waterway tourism as Bangladesh is a riverine country. “We can develop our waterway tourism as a very attractive one.”

She said Bangladesh also has the scope to develop the waterway tourism with the countries having border with the Bay of Bengal. "The matter has already been discussed and some measures have also been taken in this regard."

About the world's longest marine drive along the 127-km sandy sea beach in Cox's Bazar, she said, "If the OIC countries want, we can designate and develop a particular place on the sea beach for the tourists from the countries."

"Since we want to develop our tourism sector internationally, we can also designate and develop a separate place for the tourists from the western world," the Prime Minister told her audience.

She expressed her gratitude to the OIC member states for selecting Dhaka as the OIC City of Tourism 2019 and selecting Bangladesh as the chairperson of the 10th Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers for the two years.

Hasina thanked the OIC secretary general, the UNWTO secretary general, tourism ministers and heads of delegations, heads of different institutions and all other delegates and officials for attending this celebration programme.

An audio-video presentation was made at the programme highlighting the heritage and tourist spots of the 400-old Dhaka city.

AK Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister, Md Mahbub Ali, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury, Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, Musa Kulaklikaya, Assistant Secretary General, OIC and Md Mohibul Haque, Secretary, Civil Aviation and Tourism also spoke on the occasion.

With the inauguration, Bangladesh officially started the celebration of its capital Dhaka's achievement as "OIC City of Tourism 2019", aiming at showcasing rich Muslim heritage of the 400-year old city before the global community, especially Muslim tourists.

Dhaka was chosen the "City of Tourism for 2019" by tourism ministers of OIC member states at the closing session of the 10th Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) that was held here last year.

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