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27 October, 2015 02:03:59 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 28 October, 2015 12:54:56 AM

Sheikh Hasina declares 2016 as Tourism Year

Independent Online/UNB
Sheikh Hasina declares 2016 as Tourism Year

Observing that Bangladesh has all the treasures to emerge as the world's new tourist destination, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday called upon the Buddhist-populated countries to work out a roadmap to give a boost to the tourism of this region with Buddhist culture.

She said this while inaugurating a high-profile international conference on Buddhist Heritage and Pilgrimage Circuits at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) here in the morning.

Ministers and high officials from 13 Buddhist populated countries -- China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh -- are taking part in the event.

"I do hope, the respected delegates would be able to draw a roadmap for the development and promotion of tourism industry in the region and they would come forward to help each other to implement the roadmap," she told her audience.

Hasina said she firmly believes that they will portray Bangladesh tourism in different international fora as they will pursue a new path of mutual cooperation.

"I find the entire country [Bangladesh] as a vast terrain full of tourist attractions. The bounties of six seasons, wide expanse of alluvial plains, waterscapes, hillocks and valleys, villages under the canopy of trees and shrubs of this eternal land can amaze anyone," she added.

Sheikh Hasina also formally announced the Visit Bangladesh Year-2016.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh tourism sector has again started playing an important role in overall economic development of the country due to her government's well-thought-out plans and programmes. "This two-day international conference is part of that development and progress."

She said her government has declared the National Tourism Policy-2010 for overall development of the tourism industry and campaigning Bangladesh as a 'tourist destination', in addition to establishing Bangladesh Tourism Board.

Hasina said the government has already cut duty for the tourism-related sector, allowed quality hotels to import equipment and accessories without duty, and decided to introduce on arrival visas to nationals of over 60 countries.

She said the government has established Tourist Police to ensure security for the travellers, while the work on setting up Exclusive Tourist Zone on 1028 acres of land at Sabrang in Cox's Bazar is progressing fast. Besides, she said, a step has been taken to incorporate Bangladesh in the international cruise.

Hasina revealed that a process is also there to incorporate the issue in the river protocol with India to involve Bangladesh in the international or regional water tourism.

Pointing to the four-nation motor vehicle agreement involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN), Hasina said traveling of inter-state tourists will increase and thus will boost the tourism industry of this region.

She said a decision has been taken to celebrate the 2016 as Tourism Year' or Visit Bangladesh Year-2016 for further marketing of Bangladesh's tourism industry.

Hasina said Bangladesh remains active in developing bilateral and multilateral relations in different international and regional forums, including UNWTO and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

She said Bangladesh is a country with enormous potentials for tourism. "Our mind-blowing scenic beauty, cultural heritage, archeological remains, artefacts, rich civilisation, especially the warmth in our people has the strength to attract tourists in our country."

The Prime Minister later visited the tourism souvenir corner outside the auditorium.

The major objective of the conference is to prepare an action-based roadmap for the planning, development and marketing of sustainable and inclusive cross border Buddhist tourism circuits and routes in South Asia after consultation among globally reputed Buddhist tourism experts and local tourism stakeholders.

The conference is expected to help build a platform of Buddhists with networking of tourism players of regional countries especially among Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry in collaboration with United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has oarganised the two-day conference titled 'Developing Sustainable and Inclusive Buddhist Heritage and Pilgrimage Circuits in South Asia's Buddhist Heartland'.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon presided over the inaugural function, while Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism Muhammad Faruq Khan and UNWTO Secretary General Dr Taleb Rifai spoke as the special guests. Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Khorshed Alam Chowdhury delivered the welcome address.







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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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