Bangladesh looks to boost tourism from OIC states 

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proposed to ease visa procedures with the aim of promoting intra-OIC tourist flows. (Reuters)
Updated 13 July 2019

Bangladesh looks to boost tourism from OIC states 

  • Experts suggest building more infrastructure to attract international visitors

DHAKA: To attract tourists from these countries, Dhaka has proposed to build a special tourist zone at the world’s longest sea beach in Cox’s Bazar.  
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the proposal during the inaugural session of a two-day festival called “Dhaka the OIC City of Tourism 2019” on Thursday.
The program was attended by tourism ministers from Sierra Leone and Gambia and all other OIC states’ ambassadors in Dhaka. 
Dhaka was chosen as the “city of tourism” for 2019 during the 10th Islamic conference of tourism ministers, held in Dhaka between Feb. 5-7, 2018. 
Bangladesh has many historic Islamic sites, such as ancient mosques, holy shrines of different preachers of Islam, and great architectural structures of the Mughals.
The country boasts special natural spots including the beach at Cox’s Bazar, the world’s only mangrove forest Sundarbans, and the serene beauty of Chottogram Hill Tracts. 
While addressing the OIC delegates, Hasina talked about the potential of increasing tourism in the country.
“The value of the Islamic tourism market will increase to $243 billion by 2021, with an annual 8.3 percent growth. We’ll have to take great efforts and prepare a roadmap aimed at promoting Islamic tourism as a global business brand, which will attract tourists further,” Hasina said. 
“There’s an urgent need to galvanize our tourism sector. Islamic tourism is the best possible area where we have the opportunity to work together,” she said. 
To boost tourism from OIC citizens, Hasina proposed to “promote intra-OIC tourist flows through easing visas,” and “for investment promotion, branding and standardization and capacity building.”

FASTFACT

Bangladesh boasts special natural spots including the beach at Cox’s Bazar, the world’s only mangrove forest Sundarbans, and the serene beauty of Chottogram Hill Tracts.

She said that her country is willing to “designate and develop a particular place on the Cox’s Bazar sea beach for their tourists.”
“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,” she added. 
“Bangladesh has a strong tradition of halal foods. Moreover, we have so many Islamic heritage sites across the country which will attract the Muslim tourists,” said Dr. Bhubon Chandra Biswas, CEO of Bangladesh’s Tourism Board.
“We will work on preparing a special tourist zone for OIC nationals on Cox’s Bazar. Bangladesh will organize a series of tourism fairs in the OIC states,” Biswas added. 
Shamser Mobin Chowdhury, former ambassador and foreign secretary of Bangladesh, suggested that the country needs to build more infrastructure to attract foreign tourists.  
“Around 80 percent of our tourists are domestic. We need to introduce e-visa and port-entry arrival systems for OIC nationals to promote intra-OIC tourism,” Chowdhury said. 
“The government should support the private sector like the Maldives and Sri Lanka did. The government should facilitate and coordinate the policies along with the private sector operators,” Chowdhury added. 


Peaceful, prosperous, strong Bangladesh in Pakistan's interest, says envoy

Updated 17 min 28 sec ago

Peaceful, prosperous, strong Bangladesh in Pakistan's interest, says envoy

  • Pakistan's high commissioner to Bangladesh says more people-to-people contact necessary

DHAKA: Islamabad wants to enhance “people-to-people” contacts with Dhaka and boost bilateral relations in the areas of trade, business, education, culture and sports, Pakistan’s high commissioner to Bangladesh told Arab News on Thursday.
Imran Ahmed Siddiqui arrived in Dhaka this month after being appointed to the role in November, filling a post that had been vacant for nearly 20 months.
“In addition to government-to-government ties, my endeavor will be to promote and strengthen people-to-people contact as well as bilateral, economic, trade and cultural ties between our two countries,” Siddiqui said. He added that he had sensed a “similar desire among the people and the government of Bangladesh.”
At the end of British colonial rule of India in 1947, the territory of what is now Bangladesh became East Pakistan, politically united with West Pakistan but separated from it by hundreds of kilometers of Indian land.
East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh after a war between India and Pakistan in 1971 that killed nearly 3 million people. Relations between Islamabad and Dhaka have remained frosty since.
In 2019, Bangladesh imported goods worth around $736 million from Pakistan, while the country’s export volume was around $44 million, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.
Siddiqui said: “There’s huge potential that still remains to be explored and tapped. We have to work in partnership to facilitate frequent productive engagements between our commercial sectors, including robust participation in each other’s trade exhibitions and shows, and closer collaboration between the chambers of commerce and industry.”
The two countries also need to work together to address issues relating to their business visa regimes, he added.
“While Pakistan has already upgraded Bangladesh to Visa Category A, a similar measure by the Bangladesh government could help promote frequent interaction between our business communities, which is a prerequisite for strong trade relations,” Siddiqui said.
The Bangladeshi cricket team is currently playing a three-match T20 series against Pakistan at Gaddafi Stadium in the Pakistani city of Lahore. The third match of the series will be played next Monday.
Siddiqui said the Bangladeshi cricket team’s Pakistan tour is the beginning of a new era of friendship between the two nations. It will enable them “to further promote constructive bilateral engagements at all levels,” he added.
“I believe this cricket series will look more like a sporting event between two brothers and friends, rather than a fight between two rivals,” he said.
“This visit will generate mutual goodwill and friendliness, and will bring our two nations even closer.”
Siddiqui expressed appreciation for the “hospitality” of the Bangladeshi government toward more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state after a military-led crackdown in August 2017 that the UN has said was perpetrated with “genocidal intent.” Myanmar denies this.
Siddiqui said Pakistan is “constructively engaged” with different international organizations on the issue of Rohingya refugees, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
“We’ve noted with appreciation the hospitality offered by the Bangladesh government to a large number of refugees, as we ourselves have been sheltering, in the recent past, the highest number of refugees in the world,” he added, referring to Pakistan’s large population of Afghan refugees.
“We support all efforts for the return of refugees in safety and dignity. Pakistan is closely monitoring international developments in this regard, and will remain engaged in the future too.”
He said Pakistan views Bangladesh with “respect, affection and admiration,” adding that “a peaceful, prosperous and strong Bangladesh is in our interest.”