Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday stressed the need for taking prompt measures to make Islamic tourism a global business brand considering its huge potential since it witnesses 8.3 percent annual growth.
“The value of Islamic tourism market will increase to US $243 billion by 2021 with an annual 8.3 percent growth. So, all-out efforts and a roadmap aimed at promoting Islamic tourism as a global business brand is urgently required,” she said.
The prime minister said this while inaugurating the two-day official celebration of “Dhaka OIC City of Tourism 2019” at a city hotel. She called upon all the OIC member states to work together for flourishing Islamic tourism.
Referring to a report of Thomson-Reuters that forecasted tremendous potential of Islamic tourism, the PM said, “Muslim populations globally spent a total of US $151 billion on travel in 2015 [excluding Hajj and Umrah]. Of the amount, OIC member states contributed to US $109 billion.”
By 2020, the world’s Muslim population will be 26 percent of the entire populace while number of Muslim tourists will rise to 180 million from 156 million, she mentioned.
She urged the OIC member states to encourage their private sector entities in tourism infrastructure and development projects. Islamic economy has already flourished as a new phenomenon, the PM said.
Islamic financing, halal food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics as well as tourism are among the growing sectors of Islamic economy, she said, adding that enhanced cooperation and partnerships of both public and private sectors of the OIC member states are needed to flourish these sectors.
The prime minister hoped that the celebration of “Dhaka OIC City of Tourism 2019” will open a new door for cooperation.
She mentioned that Bangladesh has diverse tourism attractions such as Cox’s Bazar and the Sundarbans. “We all know that tourism is the fastest growing sector, greatly contributing to the generation of foreign exchange and employment.”
The PM also stressed developing tourism on naval route.
Hasina said, “If the OIC member countries want, we can develop a separate tourist spot on the Cox’s Bazar beach for them as well as for Muslim tourists.” The premier also said they want to develop another tourist spot there for further expansion of tourism.
As part of the initiative to develop Cox’s Bazar as a tourist hub, the government has a plan to develop Cox’s Bazar Airport as an international one and build another stadium.
“We can make our country a more attractive tourist destination as there are many architectural sites and Islamic establishments here. The government is also building a communication network throughout the country,” she said.
Describing Dhaka as a fascinating tourist destination, the premier said the city is situated on the bank of Buriganga, and also surrounded by Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya rivers.
The city has a rich heritage as well as major archaeological sites such as Ahsan Manzil, Lalbagh Fort, Dhakeshwari Temple, Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, museums, Suhrawardy Udyan, Armenian Church, pagodas, Hussaini Dalan, Rose Garden among many others, she added.
Hasina said the city also has many renowned religious establishments for people of other faiths. Dhaka can be made further attractive not only to Muslim tourists but also to global tourists.
She said Dhaka’s Jamdani sari is world famous, and its traditional cuisines such as tehari and bakarkhani are also as diverse and renowned as its heritage.
Biswa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of Muslims after Hajj, is held every year in Bangladesh. Hasina also highlighted Pahela Baishakh celebrations and Ekushey book fair, among others.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism M Mahbub Ali, Chairman on parliamentary standing committee of the Civil Aviation Ministry RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury, ministry Secretary M Muhibul Haque and OIC Assistant Secretary General Musa Kulaklikaya also spoke on the occasion.
An audio-video presentation highlighting the heritage and tourist spots of the 400-year-old city was screened on the occasion.