Oct 10, 2019 – Halal Industry Development Corporation or HDC in short, held a Muslim Friendly Tourism Forum 2019 at Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Honorable guests such as Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM), and some more were invited. The objective of this forum is to gather key players in the tourism industry and discuss Muslim friendly tourism in Malaysia.
Are We Ready to Pioneer This New Trend and Creating a Benchmark for the World Tourism industry?
In the first session, a representative from MoTAC and SIRIM were the first to explain about an initiative by the government bodies and standards that were set for the Halal industry. Malaysia has been pioneering Muslim Friendly Tourism back in few years since Pak Lah or our former prime minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi glory years of governing Malaysia. HDC has been promoting, educating and collaborating with many organizations and agencies ever since. MoTAC identified this as a future for the tourism industry in Malaysia to develop and become a pioneer. Few actions such as collaborations with JAKIM, hoteliers, tour operators have been conducted this few years.
The MS 2610:2015 Muslim Friendly Hospitality is Malaysia’s first standard intended for the tourism industry, that caters to Muslim travel-savvy needs. This standard guides organization in managing tourism facilities, products, and services Despite the word ‘Islamic’ used in this term, it is important to note that Islamic tourism is not exclusive to Muslims.
Due to its universal nature, Islamic tourism can also be enjoyed by non-Muslims. SIRIM QAS International offers this standard to hoteliers, travel and tour operators, tourist guides, cruises’ operators, tourism product owners, and homestay operators.
Moving on to the second session, representative of Association of Tourism Training Institute of Malaysia (ATTIM), Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) were given chance to speak on their association behalf about Muslim Friendly Tourism. Our tourism industry key players have been lacking in awareness of being a part of the halal industry. Now each of these players is now considering taking a step forward as we already have the capabilities and facilities. These representatives agreed to work together and apply for MS 2610:2015.
Only 12 hotels in Malaysia have applied and certified for MS 2610:2015 so far such as Renaissance Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Grand Bluewave Shah Alam, and PNB Perdana Hotel & Suites On The Park. Kuala Lumpur. Islamic Tourist Centre (ITC) is encouraging more hoteliers to apply for SIRIM certificate as it will be an added value to their hotel. Applications is free of charge and usually, every hotel has already fulfilled the requirement such as a Musolla, Al-Quran and praying mat upon request.
On behalf of ATTIM, we have around 16,000 certified tour guides in Malaysia. Most of them is mandarin language speaking guides and it is to entertain our targeted market tourist from China. As for Muslim Friendly Tourism, ITC will work together with ATTIM in developing a new course to expose and train existing and upcoming tour guides in the future. Modules will include proper education about Islam and the details about Muslim Friendly Tourism.
MATTA, on the other hand, have been made aware of this new trend and trying to educate more travel agency about Muslim Friendly Tourism. Pelayaran Islam is one of the holiday packages that is based on the Shariah compliance tourism package that has been in the market for quite a while. Generally, Malaysian travel agencies are taking this new trend seriously because of Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign. More Muslim tourists will come and it will benefit a lot to our local tourism industry.
In conclusion, Muslim Friendly tourism is heading towards a positive and great future for Malaysia. Pioneering in the Halal industry, we have become a role model for other countries in promoting this new trend. Modules, packages, facilities, certificates will be improved and optimized for other countries to start this trend on their own. Government and tourism industry key players need to work together in educating, campaigning and even collaborating in ensuring Muslim Friendly Tourism is our country specialties.