Islamic Tourism Economy Offers Opportunities For Women To Thrive In Tourism

Given the high participation rate of women in the tourism workforce & the number of women travellers globally, it is important to make tourism a safer, more inclusive, more meaningful & more sustainable space for the growing number of women who are in the tourism industry as both practitioners & travellers

YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture, keynote speaker at the ITC Corporate Forum themed “Women in Islamic Tourism Economy” organised by Islamic Tourism Centre on 8 July 2021, sets a great example for women as a leader with vision, drive & empathy

This was the message delivered by YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture (MOTAC), in her keynote address at the launch of the 1st Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) Corporate Forum this morning which led with the theme “Women in Islamic Tourism Economy.” Organised by ITC, the ITC Corporate Forum is a series of knowledge-exchange sessions that leads important discussions & highlights new perspectives pertaining to the Islamic Tourism & Muslim-Friendly Tourism & Hospitality space

The ITC Corporate Forum — presenting similarly interesting topics in the coming months — acts as a prelude to one of ITC’s exciting events lined up next year, the Islamic Tourism Outlook Conference 2022. The Minister noted that women were a key consumer in the travel segment & tourism businesses would benefit by marketing to them. According to a George Washington University School of Business report, nearly two-thirds (2/3) of travelers are women. In fact, in 2018 alone, there were an estimated 63 million Muslim women travellers around the world that altogether spent approximately USD80 billion on tourism & travel

“With females representing a huge & high-spending consumer group when it comes to travel & tourism, it makes sense for the industry to cater to this group,” she surmised. She further commended the efforts of ITC for playing a key role in developing Malaysia as a safe tourist destination by championing the concept of Muslim-Friendly Tourism & Hospitality. She said: “While the concept is driven by the faith-based needs & requirements of Muslim tourists, it also encompasses prioritising the safety, privacy & comfort of women travellers.”

1 of ITC’s key efforts is the Muslim-Friendly Accommodation Recognition (MFAR) programme. The programme recognises hotels & resorts that cater to the Muslim tourist market needs, among which is the provision of gender-separated facilities such as swimming pool & gym. Such a provision benefits women, regardless of religion. The Minister also emphasised the importance of women in the tourism workforce, saying: “Women are the driving force of tourism as they represent 54% of the industry’s workforce globally. Their involvement provides necessary diversity & innovations that lead to improved corporate governance & financial performance, variety of products & services.”

Having women in the tourism workforce would give insights & perspectives into what women consumers want & need, the Minister said. She added: “Women in the travel workforce would know how to cater to the female tourist market & would be able to share ideas & create products that cater to female consumers of all levels, be it solo travellers, mothers with young children, female business travellers, women friends travelling together, senior female travellers & the like.” She urged tourism industry players to provide greater support to ensure women were enabled to continue their contribution to the tourism economy & encouraged tourism industry players to address issues of women bosses stereotyping, gender discrimination, underrepresentation & underpaying of women

In welcoming participants of the forum, ITC Chairman, Dato’ Dr. Noor Zari Hamat, who is also the Secretary-General of MOTAC, said that as the organiser of the ITC Corporate Forum & a Centre of Excellence dedicated to growing the body of knowledge in the areas of Islamic Tourism & MFTH, “ITC is keen to engage in discussions, share knowledge & undertake research & strategic studies focusing not just on women in Islamic Tourism but also on the whole spectrum — from hospitality to services & the businesses within the Islamic Tourism economy.” He added that with the Muslim tourist market showing growth pre-COVID-19 & the segment’s high preference for destinations that meet their specific faith-based needs, dietary requirements & rituals, there are “opportunities for gender diversity to bring new ideas & explore new opportunities.” Director-General of ITC, Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Hasan said that the WITE event was held to “facilitate the inclusion of women at every opportunity, whether in life, social circle, business, economy, or government space & for those in the tourism industry to engage with more of them as employees, managers & customers.”

He shared that Malaysia had been declared the №1 destination for Muslim women travellers in the inaugural Muslim Women in Travel Report released in October 2019 by Crescentrating & MasterCard. “To uphold Malaysia’s position as the top destination for Muslim travellers, we believe that women in the tourism workforce & women travellers play a key role & must be given special attention,” he said. He added, “The Islamic Tourism economy provides many opportunities for women to participate in tourism — both professionally as an industry practitioner as well as personally as a traveller.”

Indeed, the ITC Corporate Forum today showcased that women’s achievements were admirable & exemplary. Within the Islamic Tourism landscape & areas such as sports, sustainable tourism, luxury tourism, tour guiding, workplace safety, & more, the speakers’ experiences proved that women’s involvement was critical towards developing the Islamic Tourism concept & advancing the role & standing of women in tourism, the economy & society as a whole

As part of its advocacy work to strengthen the Islamic Tourism & MFTH concept among tourism industry players, ITC provides training & capacity building services, conducts strategic research, organises information exchange through seminars, encourages product development & establishes standards & certifications. Its support for women in tourism has seen ITC certify 31 female Muslim Friendly Tour Guides (MFTG) in Malaysia, a number which represents half of the total number of MFTGs under ITC

In addition, almost half of the 198 participants it trained under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) since 2009 were women. “We advocate for Muslim-friendly tourism & hospitality products & services, which includes the care & privacy for female tourists. Through our Muslim-Friendly Accommodation Recognition programme, we encourage hoteliers to provide gender-separated facilities, for instance. Meanwhile, our Muslim-Friendly Tour Guide training also emphasises the respectful & proper etiquette of interacting with Muslim women,” he shared

The ITC Corporate Forum series is organised as a prelude event leading up to the Islamic Tourism Outlook Conference 2022 aimed at bringing together the industry players & stakeholders to network, discuss & share experiences & best practices for the development of Islamic Tourism & Muslim-Friendly Tourism & Hospitality segment

Also updated to

Passionate in art & lifestyle content creation, more details via