Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) – overseeing matters pertaining to the development of Islamic Tourism for Malaysia – saw another milestone in its 12-year history to date.
24 August 2021 marked a momentous occasion for ITC where it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM). The MoU focuses on human capital development in the Islamic Tourism industry and the enhancement of Islamic Tourism-related programmes and curriculum in tertiary education. Signatories to the MoU were Directors-General of ITC and JAKIM, Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan and Datuk Abdul Aziz Jusoh, respectively.
The event also saw the presence of Institut Pengajian Islam dan Dakwah Sabah (IPDAS), a body under JAKIM. As an institution of learning providing tertiary education in Islamic studies, this will allow IPDAS to enhance their academic curriculum where Islamic Tourism is concerned as aspired by the MoU.
That flows from the fact that IPDAS had undergone a restructuring in December 2018, which will now see the institution offer new programmes such as the Diploma in Islamic Tourism, Diploma in Creative Teachings, Diploma in Digital Teachings, and Bachelor of Contemporary Teachings, among others.
Those new additions will go along with existing programmes being offered by IPDAS at present, in the certificate, foundation and diploma levels, such as the Certificate of Foundation in Islamic Studies and Teachings (SAPID), Certificate of Islamic Studies (SPI) and the Diploma in Islamic Teachings (DDI).
In the non-curricular aspect, the MoU will also see the provision of training services by ITC to IPDAS’ academic staff and industry players to enhance their understanding of Islamic Tourism and Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH), and the holding of seminars on curriculum development and conducting of research in the mentioned fields.
Speaking at the online event, Secretary-General of MOTAC, Dato’ Dr. Noor Zari Hamat, who is also the Chairman of ITC, noted: “I applaud such an initiative by parties privy to the MoU, namely, ITC, an agency under my ministry, and JAKIM, on the road to human capital development.”
“As we know, the Muslim travel market is growing, and the trend is expected to accelerate in the coming years. To cater to the rising demand for Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality products and services, one of the many aspects which needs focus is capacity-building, such as curriculum development for institutions of higher learning, to ensure a sustainable and inclusive human resource,” he added.
Dato’ Dr. Noor Zari opined that such a collaboration was also vital to build a knowledge-based economy whilst creating a sustainable and competitive business environment, which will benefit society as a whole.
“I would also like to reiterate that education and tourism complement each other very much because whilst education creates capable and knowledgeable human capital, tourism will be the one to utilise these resources for industry development and in turn, economic prosperity and national progress.”
He further explained: “In 2019, tourism contributed to 15.9% of the national gross domestic product (GDP), making it the third-largest sector. Thus, tourism is a key industry in Malaysia as it is also the source of income for many Malaysians out there. Although tourism has been severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysia is confident that its tourism sector will be able to pull through and emerge from this pandemic evolved, as a more inclusive and sustainable one.”
“The National Tourism Policy (NTP) 2020-2030 that was launched in December 2020 speaks a lot about staying competitive, whilst ensuring sustainability and inclusivity, and this collaboration is aimed at fulfilling the NTP’s aspirations as it all comes down to human capital development.”
“Malaysia was recently named the best destination of choice in the Muslim travel market, by the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2021. This serves as a solid base for our national tourism stakeholders and industry players to work on, towards better development of Islamic Tourism in Malaysia, as more and more entities are now showing a growing interest in tapping into the said market.”
Dato’ Dr. Noor Zari also viewed that Malaysia’s position as a multiracial, multiethnic and multiconfessional nation makes it a melting pot, which adds value to its list offerings and attractions for all tourists, including Muslim tourists. In addition, the availability of Halal food everywhere and provision of prayer facilities, such as ablution facilities, musollahs, prayer mats and the indication of the Qiblat sign will enrich the stay and experience of Muslim tourists.
“All in all, Malaysia must continue to lead the way for all things Islamic Tourism and Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality, and always strive to be the best among other nations out there because the competition is growing as observed where more nations are now open to embracing MFTH in their respective tourism sectors.”
“MOTAC, via ITC, is ever ready to assist tourism partners out there who wish to leverage on the niche but lucrative potentials of the Muslim travel market as we offer a wide range of services, from research and training, to standards and certifications. That goes along with the fact that ITC is also known worldwide as the leading Centre of Excellence, and a point of reference for Islamic tourism and MFTH,” he concluded.
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