ISLAMIC TOURISM AND CROSS-SECTORAL COLLABORATIONS ARE THE WAY TO GO FOR GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY4 min read
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, 17 OCTOBER 2022: Islamic Tourism has been identified as one of the key sectors to encourage economic activities, job creation and employment opportunities in the tourism industry, thanks to the burgeoning demands for Muslim-Friendly products and services by the Muslim tourist market.
YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture confirmed this in her Officiating Address at the 3rd World Islamic Tourism Conference (WITC) organised by Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), the sole government agency in charge of Islamic Tourism development in the country.
YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy said: “The enormous 2 billion Muslim population worldwide is driving a new and significant segment of Muslim travellers, which will positively impact the overall tourism industry, especially critical now as we work hard towards industry and economic recovery.”
“The demand for Muslim-friendly tourism products and services to satisfy their leisure, business, spiritual and healthcare travel needs gives impetus to develop the tourism supply chain across all sectors,” she added.
She explained that the Islamic Tourism ecosystem is closely connected with other tourism segments and major economic sectors, and that the growth and development of the Muslim tourist market would sustain sectors such as banking, finance and insurance through payment gateways, digital wallets and travel insurance products for the needs of this market.
She also noted the potential demand ensuing from the rise of this tourist market in terms of Muslimah fashion and activewear, cosmetics, green technology, Muslim-friendly media, digital entertainment and recreation, and Halal pharmaceuticals, medical and wellness products and services. This is in line with key strategies outlined in Malaysia’s National Tourism Policy (NTP) 2020-2030 in developing Islamic Tourism in the country.
“There are many opportunities for the tourism industry players and entrepreneurs to take advantage of this development and create products and services for this market. Increased Islamic Tourism activities drive product innovation and diversification, entrepreneurial opportunities, and job creation, thus paving the way for people to live improved, enriched and financially stable lives,” she added.
“Industry players in both the public and private sectors need to look into this demand, learn about the market needs, and fill in the gaps in the form of investment, product and package development, policies and incentives. The tourism industry needs to be re-energised with new ideas, and not to fall back on the old way of doing things. This three-day conference is a great platform to explore the Islamic Tourism potential further,” she added.
Malaysia’s development of Islamic Tourism began with the establishment of ITC in 2009 under the purview of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Since then, ITC has provided research, training, capacity building and standards and certification to help strengthen the Islamic Tourism ecosystem in Malaysia and abroad.
It championed the development of Mosque Tourism to not only showcase the culture, heritage and history of the local Muslim community, but also as a means to expand the economic activities and income potential of the mosque institution through mosque cooperatives and waqf.
ITC also identified potential jobs and career paths within the Islamic Tourism ecosystem. It advocated for the role of the Halal Executive in hotels to ensure standards compliance, and helped create a need for male spa therapists, Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guides, and Mosque Volunteers. All these attests to the Islamic Tourism sector’s ability to create new employment opportunities for Malaysians and support the industry’s human capital development and supply chain.
Through its information gathering, research and data analysis, ITC helped to improve the evidence base for Islamic Tourism to formulate policy and make business decisions.
As Malaysia’s signature Islamic Tourism business event, this year’s WITC focused on the theme “Inspiring Balance, Transformations and Solutions” to complement the global efforts to restore the tourism industry and the economy. The theme signified the need to strike a balance in tourism development that would lead to transformative thinking and actions when searching for the right solutions from an Islamic perspective.
WITC started in 2017 as a comprehensive knowledge sharing, experience exchange and networking space for tourism industry agencies and associations, product and service providers, businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and others who are part of the Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality ecosystem. In this third instalment, the conference amplified its business-to-business aspect by adding a new element, a tourism industry exhibition involving 80 institutions and organisations from the tourism industry and beyond, both local and international, adding further value for those attending the three-day physical event.
Some 40 speakers from Malaysia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore, Thailand, Turkiye, and Uzbekistan were invited to share their thoughts and expertise with the audience. Topics of discussions ranged from destination showcase, economy, urban challenges and sustainability, technology, cultural exchange, education, as well as standards and certification.
The 3rd World Islamic Tourism Conference, held at World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur, was launched by YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri, followed by a Special Address by Tan Sri Dr. Mohd. Daud Bakar, Chairman of Shariah Advisory Council, Bank Negara Malaysia, on “Islamic Tourism Inspires Balance, Transformations and Solutions in Today’s Economy”. YBhg. Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan, Director-General of ITC is expected to close the conference with a wrap-up session and Closing Remarks on the last day of the programme, on 19 October 2022.
The conference and exhibition is open to the public until 19 October. Those interested to attend the second and third days of the conference can register at www.witc.gov.my.