ISLAMIC TOURISM PAVES THE WAY FORWARD FOR ECONOMIC AND TOURISM RECOVERY

With 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, the Muslim consumer market is expected to be among a key strategy to uplift the tourism industry and economies affected by the pandemic, with Islamic Tourism potentially leading the way towards this outcome

Addressing participants of the 2nd World Islamic Tourism Conference (WITC) organised by Islamic Tourism Centre, YB Dato Sri Nancy Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said: “Islamic Tourism, and the concept of Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality is a powerful branding, and marketing tool to attract the Muslim market in the new tourism environment, where health and safety are top priorities.”

In tapping into the Muslim tourist market, the Minister proposed three key strategies pertaining to innovation, knowledge and collaboration.

She said that tourism industry players needed to be innovative in product development and capacity building to create products and services suitable for the Muslim tourists. “By adapting existing products and services to suit the Muslim tourist market needs and applying standards and certifications that provide assurance to Muslim customers, destinations can prepare themselves better to serve the market.”

Knowledge about the market was also important to understand their general and unique travel needs, behaviours and preferences. She advocated the virtues of training, upskilling, and research to provide industry players with a familiarity with the market, thus encouraging product development and diversification.

She also emphasised on collaborations, saying that it was a strategy to thrive in the new norm. “Forging partnerships will merge key strengths to move forward stronger. For tourism industry players, such cooperation can enhance marketing and branding while establishing a stronger ecosystem, to serve the Muslim tourist market effectively.”

She noted: “The vastness of Islamic Tourism and its interconnectedness to other areas of the socioeconomy unlocks so many opportunities for everyone. I can say that Islamic Tourism is a yet-untapped area that holds great promise, and potential in advancing the Islamic Economy as a whole. Understanding the Muslim tourist market and their needs, and flowing from that, making the necessary preparations to serve them, paves the way for a new revenue stream or income generation from a potentially lucrative market.”

She was optimistic that Muslim tourists would continue to fulfil their travel needs as borders gradually reopened. At the height of pre-pandemic tourism, Muslim tourist expenditure amounted to USD194 billion, and is expected to reach USD208 billion in 2024, taking into consideration the impact of COVID-19.

“It’s still a significant figure despite the recent travel disruption,” the Minister said, and encouraged all industry players across all sectors of the economy -- travel, finance, medical, media and entertainment, medical, food and beverage, technology, telecommunications, transportation, education, retail, etc. -- to participate in and benefit from the Islamic Tourism economy.

“The potential for income revenue exists by making efforts to close the existing gap between demand and supply for Muslim-Friendly tourism products, and services across the Islamic Economy.”

WITC continues with exciting discussions over the next two days from 16 to 17 Nov. Among them is a special presentation by Prof. Dr. Jon Wilson, Director - International Business, Regent’s University London, UK, on 17 November who will address the importance of halal branding for tourism businesses.

Participants stand a chance to win exciting prizes from Taiwan Tourism, Bureau KL Office, Mardhiyyah Hotel & Suites, Lotus Desaru Resort & Spa, Ikhlas and Teratak Spa.

Register for the online conference at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pf-itqj8sHdwlRgAx10Etody3CuXfYz9V