Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) expressed great hope in the growing interest around the Southeast Asia region towards Muslim-friendly Malaysia. This was evident in a recent webinar held jointly by ITC and Tourism Malaysia Bangkok entitled Muslim-friendly Malaysia Webinar on 29 June 2021.
An initiative targeted especially to industry players from Thailand who are involved in group tours and the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) segments, it provided the audience with an overview of Malaysia’s Muslim-friendly tourism offerings across various segments of the tourism industry such as tour packages, hotels and its facilities, guided tours, and more.
Responding to the overwhelming interest shown by the Thai tourism industry players during the webinar, Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan, Director-General of Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) said: “We are pleased to see such a great interest from the Thai tourism industry for the Muslim-friendly experiences and touristic offerings that Malaysia has to offer. This indicates that there is a strong demand for tourism and hospitality products and services that cater to the faith-based needs of Muslim tourists from Thailand.”
Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip believed that it was an opportunity for Malaysia’s tourism practitioners to tap into. “This phenomenon acts as a call for Malaysian tourism industry players to boost their efforts in developing and promoting all things Islamic Tourism (IT) and Muslim-friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH),” he said.
He advised tourism industry players in Malaysia to address and meet those needs by providing facilities and services and creating tourism products and packages that would appeal to Muslim tourists from Thailand.
Essentially, two necessities are of utmost importance for the Muslim tourist segment – Halal food and prayer facilities. These are reflected in the Muslim-Friendly Accommodation Recognition (MFAR) programme that ITC developed for hotels.
MFAR, the first of its kind worldwide, consists of three categories – Silver, Gold and Platinum. By granting the said recognition to hotels and accommodations, it ensures the Muslim guests a peace of mind whilst enhancing their stay and experience in Malaysia. Examples of features which qualify a hotel or accommodation for MFAR include prayer and water facilities for ablution, provision of the Quran, Kiblat sign and prayer mats, availability of Halal food as well as family-friendly facilities.
Besides promoting the concept of MFTH through estabishing standards and certification, ITC also conducts training and knowledge-sharing to create awareness for the Muslim tourist segment’s potential contribution towards the tourism economy and advise industry players on the needs of Muslim tourists.
“As we all know, the tourism sector must now focus on gearing its efforts towards recovery of the industry from the pandemic. The Muslim tourist market is one market that will definitely rebound once borders reopen, and the Malaysian industry players are in prime position to take advantage of that development. With Malaysia’s rich culture and heritage in terms of food, architecture, arts heritage, along with abundance of natural attractions, family-friendly activities, and city offerings, packaged together with ITC’s MFAR hotels and the availability of halal food, Malaysia stands to be a very attractive destination for Muslim tourists from all over the world.”
Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip expressed that he looked forward to forging greater cooperation and synergy with fellow industry players to grow and develop the Muslim travel market as a means to create a more dynamic yet sustainable tourism ecosystem.
The webinar, held virtually, was attended by a total 84 participants ranging from Thai travel agencies and tour operators, Tourism Promotion Organisation for Asia-Pacific (TPO), local state tourism boards as well as industry players.
- TAGS / KEYWORDS: