'The value of Islamic tourism market will increase to $243 billion by 2021 with an annual 8.3% growth'
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday stressed the need for taking prompt measures to make Islamic tourism as a global business brand considering its huge potential.
“The value of Islamic tourism market will increase to $243 billion by 2021 with an annual 8.3% growth. So, all-out efforts and roadmap aims at promoting Islamic tourism as a global business brand is urgently required,” she said while inaugurating the two-day official celebration of ”Dhaka Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) City of Tourism 2019 in a city hotel, reports BSS.
The prime minister also proposed allocating a separate tourist spots 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 realizing 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 of Thomson-Reuters that forecasted tremendous potential of Islamic tourism, Sheikh Hasina said: “Muslim populations globally spent a total of $151 billion on travel in 2015 (excluding Hajj and Umrah). Of the amount, OIC member states contributed $109 billion.”
By 2020, the world’s Muslim population would be 26% while the number of Muslim tourists would 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, standardization and capacity building.”
The prime minister also hoped that the grand celebration of “Dhaka OIC City of Tourism 2019” would open a new door for cooperation of sustainable tourism development, acceleration of intra-OIC tourism and cooperation among member states which will ultimately contribute towards economic development of OIC member states.
Spelling out Bangladesh’s potential in tourism sector Sheikh Hasina said: “You will be happy to know that Bangladesh has the diversified tourism attractions. The longest unbroken sea beach in Cox’s Bazar, UNESCO world heritage site and the largest mangrove forest the Sundarbans, ancient and the modern archaeological, and Islamic sites etc are the major tourist attractions in Bangladesh.”
In addition, she said: “We all know that tourism is the fastest growing sector greatly contributing to the generation of foreign exchange and employment across the world.”
“Utilizing the huge potential of tourism in the country, we are trying to create employment and income opportunities for the people,” she continued.
Foreign Minister Dr 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, and OIC Assistant Secretary General Musa Kulaklikaya, also spoke on the occasion, among others.