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
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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. 


Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

Updated 20 July 2019
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Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

  • At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week
  • South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season

GAUHATI, India: The death toll in monsoon flooding in South Asia has risen to 152 as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in three countries, officials said Saturday.
At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week. A dozen have been killed in Bangladesh.
Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.
Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. More than 2.5 million have also been hit by flooding in India’s Bihar state.
Amid the flooding, 20-year-old Imrana Khatoon delivered her first baby on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam’s flooded Gagalmari village, locals said. The woman and the newborn were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.
Community health worker Parag Jyoti Das, who visited the family, said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the child were moved to a hospital on a boat to the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon’s village was flooded and closed.
“I would have felt happier if the baby’s father was here,” said Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala.
More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.
Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.
“We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance minister.
In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.
In at least two of Nepal’s districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.
South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.