Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday inaugurated the two-day official celebration programme of ‘Dhaka the OIC City of Tourism-2019’ at Intercontinental Hotel in the city.
Dhaka was chosen as the ‘City of Tourism for 2019’ by the tourism ministers of the OIC member states at the closing session of the 10th Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) that was held in Dhaka last year .
On this occasion, the Prime Minister 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.
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.
About Bangladesh’s tourism sector, the Prime Minister emphasised flourishing its waterway tourism as Bangladesh is a riverine country. “We can develop our riverway 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 programme can be arranged there. We’re taking plans for these.”
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.
After the inaugural session, the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) arranged a Dhaka city tours in the afternoon for the representatives from OIC member state. The OIC delegation is scheduled to visit nearly 500-year old Panam City in Narayanganj on Friday.
The BTB will arrange concert, laser show and fireworks at Hatir Jheel on Friday night as part of its celebration programme.
‘We will showcase Dhaka’s rich cultural and Muslim heritage, especially the archaeology, before the OIC member state representatives for encouraging them to promote our tourism in their respective countries,’ civil aviation and tourism secretary M Mohibul Haque told BSS on Wednesday.