Baku, 27 June 2022
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has emphasized the need to mainstream the role of the Private Sector in the development of tourism in OIC Member States. 
In his statement on behalf of the OIC Secretary-General, H.E. Hissein Brahim Taha during the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) preparatory to the 11th Session of the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers holding in Baku, Azerbaijan from 27th – 29th June 2022, Dr. Ahmad Kawesa Sengendo Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs, highlighted that, besides its economic benefits, tourism plays a vital role in the promotion of solidarity within the Muslim Ummah and international understanding. 
The statement asserted that tourism development has always received primary attention of the entire OIC family, because exchange of services in the tourism sector has always contributed to the growth and development of the economies of the 57 member states of the Organization, both during the pre- and post-COVID 19 pandemic eras. 
The statement recognized the significance of this meeting with regard to the implementation of the OIC Resolutions in the domain of tourism, considering the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the tourism sector by closing borders, reducing both the transportation of tourists and tourist demand. 
The OIC statement therefore emphasized that, one of the major tasks before the Organisation during this challenging time is the scaling up of cooperation efforts through improving tourism policy harmonization, development of Islamic tourism, domestic tourism facilitation, tourism training, investment opportunities and development of tourism infrastructure. The OIC also called upon Member States and institutions to do more to exploit the great potential in the tourism sector available in the Member States. 
The Opening Session of the Senior Officials Meeting was also addressed by Mr. Kanan Gasimov, of the State Tourism Agency of Azerbaijan and witnessed the handing over of the Chairmanship of the Session from Bangladesh as the Chair of the 10th Session to Azerbaijan as the Chair of the 11th Session.