KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism, Arts & Culture Ministry through its agency Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) has developed three initiatives for the sector for 2019.
Representing the Tourism, Arts & Culture minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi, Islamic Tourism Centre director-general Datuk Sri Abdul Khani Daud said as Malaysia gears up for Visit Malaysia 2020, it is very pivotal that the ministry to reach potential travellers, especially in the digital sphere of online booking sites and social media networking.
“As the Malaysian tourism industry keeps its momentum going, The Islamic tourism sector or Muslim-Friendly tourism segment could further enhance visitor arrivals, contribute to economic growth and help drive investments,“ he said at the launch of HalalHoliday application at The Linc here today.
“Last year, Malaysia received 5.2 million Muslim tourists, making up 20.1% of the overall tourist arrivals. (Total tourist arrivals to Malaysia in 2018: 25.8 million). An increase of the numbers annually will assist us in achieving 30 million tourist arrivals for the year 2020.”
The three initiatives to be carried out by ITC are:
> The study of Sekolah Pondok as an Islamic tourism attraction. ITC and a local higher learning institution are in the midst of conducting a research on Sekolah Pondok as a tourism product for edu-tourism. The Sekolah Pondok has high potential to attract tourists and students alike to learn Islamic knowledge through short, medium or long-term study.
> Enriching Mosque Tour Experiences. ITC is developing a module for mosque tour volunteers to further enhance their knowledge and deliver the best experience for visitors. ITC will also hold a conference to discuss Mosque tourism for Imams of mosques nationwide – an initiative that has been co-organised with Jakim since 2016. This year’s conference is tentatively scheduled for October.
> Recognition of Muslim-friendly hotels. ITC will launch the world’s first ever government-backed recognition of Muslim-friendly hotels later this year. ITC is already a reference point in terms of Muslim Friendly Tourism for OIC member nations and non-Muslim majority countries. The introduction of this Muslim-friendly hotels recognition will further strengthen ITC as a powerhouse in the Islamic tourism sector and will place Malaysia as a hub for Muslim Friendly tourism.
“In 2007, Malaysia barely crossed the 20 million tourist arrival mark, with RM53 billion receipts recorded. Fast forward to 2018 Malaysia received 26 million tourists, with RM84 billion receipts.
“Nowadays, travellers are even more adventurous, markets are more diverse, and the global race is even more competitive,“ he said.
Abdul added that the digital revolution has already started, new ideas and technologies will deeply affect the lives of peoples and companies both big and small.
“Digital Transformation will bring synergies, efficiency and productivity gains. The combined use of digital technologies with travel related products brings out new and innovative business models, generates competitiveness, jobs, growth and providing benefits for consumers and entrepreneurs.”
Earlier, Abdul officiated Halalholiday,com, a Muslim-friendly online travel marketplace that can cater to the influx of a new breed of young Muslim travellers with a burning desire to explore the world while still adhering to their faith-based needs.
Present was Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang and Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) president Uzaidi Udani.
HalalHoliday chief executive officer Ab Rahman Ali said the company’s mission is to empower Muslim pilgrims or leisure travellers a desire to confidently experience travel destinations anywhere in the world while still adhering to their faith-based needs.
“HalalHoliday is not just a booking website for travellers. But a personalised and flexible online marketplace for universal travellers and Muslim travellers. We wanted to be in the blue ocean where there are so limit,“ he said.