World Tourism Day (WTD) 2021 will take place on Monday this year, on its conventional date 27 September. Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), tasked to develop and promote the Islamic Tourism segment in Malaysia, is delighted to commemorate this occasion, particularly, on its focus this year, revolving mainly around inclusivity.

The Director-General of ITC, Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan, opined that the Islamic Tourism concept and along with it, branding models such as Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality (MFTH), are key in achieving goals such as sustainability, competitiveness and on top of it all, inclusivity

“This all stems from the fact that the Muslim travel market, which is part and parcel of Islamic Tourism, is growing exponentially, and is expected to continue in that trend. This is because the Muslim travel market is diverse and large, cutting across many regions around the world and populations from all walks of life. In relation to that, it has been reported that the population of Muslims worldwide itself is also expected to grow at an accelerating pace in the coming years and decades,” Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip elaborated.

“Moreover, the behaviour observed in this niche market shows a tendency for its consumers – Muslim tourists and travellers – to travel in large groups. Besides, they also exhibit greater tendency to have longer stays in addition to a bigger spending capacity. All the above points to the fact this segment possesses not just broad opportunities but with it, lucrative potentials if tapped.”

In addition, Islamic Tourism, which is no longer just the traditional activities of pilgrimage and visits to holy sites, promotes values such as safety, cleanliness, hygiene and respect. This is because Muslim tourists’ niche faith-based needs lie in availability of Halal food and provision of prayer facilities – where the said values are a cornerstone.

“By catering to the needs of this segment, we ensure inclusivity. This also encourages organisations and entities to reconsider how they run businesses. Thus, via facilitation of the Muslim travel market, it will lead to greater instillment and promotion of a culture that adheres to Islamic principles and adopts best practices – such as cleanliness and hygiene,” Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip explained further.

“I think it is very apt that inclusivity was chosen as the main theme for this year’s World Tourism Day. It addresses, validates, and encourages the efforts of entities around the world who advocate for such a business environment, one which is set to become more pronounced post-COVID-19. Nowadays, consumers look for products and services which are clean, hygienic and safe – not just in tourism alone, but in other areas, too.”

He further noted: “As tourism is a pillar under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) thus ITC believes that Islamic Tourism will be a driving force in helping the tourism sector as we emerge from the pandemic – by ensuring all its stakeholders and players including minorities and youths will not be left behind. Indeed, tourism is everywhere – encompassing transportation services, hotels, even small, family-run businesses – hence everyone must be included in this worldwide effort.”

Thus, ITC once again would like to express its support and advocate inclusivity, notwithstanding sustainability and such sort of best values. “As an agency that is internationally renowned for its expertise in Islamic Tourism, ITC has been advocating for greater development and promotion of Islamic Tourism because to embrace the Muslim travel market is to show inclusivity and consequently, also a step towards sustainability,” said Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip.

“The economic benefits that organisations and entities stand to benefit from tapping into the Muslim travel market are huge, no doubt, as it cuts across many elements of tour and travel, be it tour guides, accommodations, food and beverage operations, tourist attractions, and the like. We call upon our fellow tourism partners worldwide to consider this market as a means to recalibrate their businesses towards inclusivity and sustainability.”

“At ITC, we offer a wide range of services that revolve around Islamic Tourism, such as research, training, market intelligence, standards, certification and recognition. Our initiatives are catered for all organisations and entities alike and we hope our inclusivity will not just spur more interested parties in Islamic Tourism, but also inspire others worldwide, particularly in tourism, in the move and spirit of fulfilling the aspirations of World Tourism Day 2021,” he concluded.

World Tourism Day is celebrated annually on 27 September, as an occasion ideated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which was first celebrated on that same date in 1970 coinciding with the day the UNWTO itself was founded. World Tourism Day strives to raise awareness on tourism in the international stage and how important it is – culturally, socially and economically. Blue is the colour chosen to represent this momentous day