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EMPOWERING PULAU PINANG BUMIPUTERA IN THEMUSLIM-FRIENDLY TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY (MFTH) SECTOR

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PENANG, 30 APRIL 2024: Some 28 Bumiputera tourist guides received the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) recognition as Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guides (MFTG), at a special Certification Ceremony held at Bertam Resort in Kepala Batas, Penang today. This ceremony concluded ITC’s 5-day long engagement programme to connect with Penang tourism industry players in the mission to fortify the island’s through three main events.

The networking journey began at MATTA Fair Penang, which took place on 26, 27 and 28 April 2024 at SPICE Arena, Bayan Lepas, where ITC took part as an exhibitor, with its partners, Teratak Spa and Rangkaian Hotel Seri Malaysia. It was followed by the Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH) Awareness Seminar, held at Ascott Gurney, George Town on 29 April, and Majlis Penyampaian Sijil Pengiktirafan Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guide (MFTG) – Penang Edition at Bertam Resort and Water Park, Kepala Batas on 30 April 2024, both organised by ITC. The visit to Penang promises to be a fruitful one, as ITC is able to discuss strategies in highlighting the island’s Muslim-friendly offerings with practitioners and decision makers in the tourism industry from various expertise.

On MFTG, the Director-General of ITC, an agency under the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) tasked to develop the Islamic Tourism sector in Malaysia, Nizran Noordin emphasised on the importance of Muslim-friendly services in the tour guiding field in a much-favoured destination like Penang. This is to address the growing and financially strong Muslim tourist market, which consistently makes up 20% of Malaysia’s yearly international tourist arrivals count and travel expenses. In 2023, the country welcomed 4.5 million Muslim tourists, contributing an estimated RM14.7 billion to the Malaysian economy.

“It is only apt for MFTGs to collaborate with tour operators topackage Malaysia’s best attractions into Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality(MFTH) packages for Muslim tourists interested in exploring our diverse cultureand heritage. From the unique Islamic culture of Malay, Indian, and Chinesedescent, the heritage of the Peranakan community, special dishes like NasiKandar, to the fascinating history at the Penang War Museum, there’s simply somany attractions that can be experienced and witnessed firsthand by Muslim travellers in this island,” said the Director-General.

He continued, “In achieving our Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2026 target of 35.6 million tourist arrivals, cooperation between various stakeholders in the tourism industry is necessary in producing tourism products and services that globally push the Malaysian culture and heritage”.

The honoured tourist guides previously attended and completed the MFTG training course organised by ITC, in collaboration with Bahagian Penyelarasan Penyertaan Bumiputera Pulau Pinang (BPP BPP), Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU), Prime Minister’s Department and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Penang from 5 to 7 February, earlier this year.

Nizran also stated, “MFTG is a programme ITC initiated in 2017 to enhance local tourist guides’ competitive advantage and appeal to Muslim tourists. We currently have a total of 211 MFTGs, with Bumiputera constituting 27%. We see this joint effort by ITC, BPP BPP and UiTM Penang as a start for us to convince more Bumiputeras of the socioeconomic potential of the Muslim tourist market and the advantages the MFTH sector brings to their business.”

“ITC stands prepared to collaborate with industry practitioners enthusiastic in further developing Malaysia’s MFTH ecosystem. We are open to share our resources and expertise to come up with more programmes similar to what we’ve done with BPPBPP and UiTM Penang,” said Nizran in th event that saw the presence of YBhg. Tan Sri Khalid Ramli, Chairman of Majlis Pembangunan Bumiputera Pulau Pinang (MPBPP).

MFTG is an ITC signature programme, developed to provide value-adding qualities to local industry practitioners keen on expanding their offerings to entice the Muslim travel market. Similarly, the Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality Assurance and Recognition (MFAR) was created to recognise
premises in the areas of Tourist Accommodation Premises, Spa and Wellness Centres, Medical Facilities, Travel Management Operating Businesses, Transportation Hubs, Tourism Products, Shopping Centres, Theme and Entertainment Parks, Rest and Recuperation Areas and Trade and Convention Centres.

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