Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed on Thursday the need for preparing a roadmap to promote Islamic tourism as a global brand to unlock the potential of its rapidly growing market, reports UNB.
"The value of Islamic tourism market will increase to $243 billion by 2021 with an annual 8.3 per cent 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 per cent, she mentioned.
A Thomson-Reuters report says, Muslim population has 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 potential 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."
"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.
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 programmes 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.
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