Dhaka, Jul 11 (UNB) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday stressed the need for preparing a roadmap to promote Islamic tourism as a global brand to unlock the potentials of its rapidly growing market.
“The value of Islamic tourism market will increase to $243 billion by 2021 with an annual 8.3 percent growth. So, we’ll have to take all-out efforts and prepare a roadmap aimed at promoting Islamic tourism as a global business brand, which will attract tourists further,” she said.
The Prime Minister made the remarks while inaugurating the two-day official celebration programme of ‘Dhaka the OIC City of Tourism-2019’ at Intercontinental Hotel in the city.
According to a report, the number of Muslim tourists will rise to 180 million by 2020 from 156 million. By 2020, the world’s Muslim population will be 26 percent, she mentioned.
A Thomson-Reuters report says, Muslim populations have globally spent a total of $151 billion on travel in 2015 (excluding Hajj and Umrah). Of the amount, OIC member states contributed $109 billion, the PM noted.
Sheikh Hasina said tourism is 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 believes that OIC member states can 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 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.”
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.
Mentioning that the government wants to increase the attraction of Cox’s Bazar further, she said the government is now constructing an international airport there. There’ll be refueling system for aircraft as the area is at the juncture of the international air route.”
Hasina said the government has already constructed an international cricket stadium. “We’ll also construct a football stadium. We’ll construct a convention centre so that various programme can be arranged there. We’re taking plans for these.”
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh can be made more attractive to tourists as there are 80 miles of sandy sea beach in Cox’s Bazar, the largest mangrove forest the Sundarbans, many ancient and modern archaeological, and Islamic sites and establishments.
About the Dhaka city situated on the bank of Buriganga River, she said here its major attractive archaeological sites include Ahsan Manzil, Lalbagh Fort, Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, Satgumboj Mosque, Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, Suhrawardy Udyan, Hussaini Dalan, Armenian Church and Dhakeshwari Temple.
Mentioning that there are also renowned religious establishments for the people of other faiths, she said Dhaka can be made attractive further to not only Muslim tourists but also to the global tourists.
Hasina said the Baitual Mukarram national mosque was designed in the style of Holy Ka’aba of Makkah. ‘Bishwa Ijtema’, the second largest congregation after Hajj takes place in Bangladesh every year, she added.
Prie Minister also highlighted Pahela Baishakh celebration, Jamdani Saree and Muslin which is a brand name of pre-colonial Bengal textile; Rose Garden, and Ekushey Book Fair.
She said the grand celebration of ‘Dhaka OIC City of Tourism’ will open a new door of cooperation for sustainable tourism development and acceleration of intra-OIC tourists flows, cooperation among member states which will ultimately contribute to economic development of the OIC Member States.
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.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdur Momen, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali, Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury, OIC Assistant Secretary General Musa Kulaklikaya and Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Md. Mohibul Haque also spoke on the occasion.