By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Guyana and Suriname, members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), will participate in the first ‘training workshop on the developing Muslim friendly tourism in Suriname and Guyana,’ conducted by the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT), in cooperation with SESRIC and the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC), July 15-17, 2019, in Paramaribo.
The event will take place within the framework of the Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC), an arm of the OIC.
Through this sort of South/South cooperation, five experts from two major tourism countries, Malaysia and Turkey will facilitate the workshop in Paramaribo. Senior-level experts, policymakers and practitioners from Suriname and Guyana will attend the training workshop.
Nicola Balram from the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) will be part of the Guyana delegation stated, “Muslim tourism is a growing industry and Guyana welcomes all visitors that want to experience its product and sustainable tourism. This workshop will help Guyana understand the needs of Muslim travellers such as food, prayers, and accommodation to better welcome them to experience the country,” Balram said.
Faridy Lila of the ministry of trade, industry and tourism will represent Suriname; the aim is to introduce basic concepts on Muslim Friendly Tourism (MFT), raise awareness about MFT services in Suriname and Guyana, and share best practices from OIC member countries.
During the workshop, SESRIC will make technical presentations on the “importance of MFT” and “efforts of OIC and strategic roadmap for development of Islamic tourism in OIC member countries.”
Muslims make up one of the fastest-growing segments of the global travel industry. With an increasing awareness and expanding numbers of Muslim tourists, many players and stakeholders in the tourism industry have started to offer special products and services, developed and designed in accordance with Islamic principles, to cater to the needs usually called MFT.
However, despite attracting significant interest across the globe, MFT is relatively a new concept in Latin America, especially in Suriname and Guyana. These two OIC member Countries have a great potential to attract significant number of tourists interested in MFT services from the continental America as well as Africa, Europe and Asia.
Guyana and Suriname have significant Muslim populations, and are keen to grow their tourism industry jointly, in accordance with the OIC 2025 plan of action, that coincide with the UN sustainable development goals, and OIC commitment to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”
The OIC group has committed plans by 2030 to “devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.