ARTICLE: ISLAMIC TOURISM
Islamic tourism? Is it confined to beautiful mosques, ornate
Islamic architecture, gender segregation in the use of
facilities and halal food?
regard this as symbolic of Islam, there are other aspects that
make up Islamic tourism. The subject was dwelt at length by
participants of the inaugural Global Islamic Tourism Conference
and Exhibition held from July 30 to Aug 1 at the Putrajaya
International Convention Centre.
Themed "Hidden Islamic Wonders", the conference also discussed
and addressed issues surrounding the misconception of Islam and
the Muslim community worldwide due to negative publicity often
given by the Western media.
the National Tourism Council of Malaysia (NTCM) and supported by
Tourism Malaysia, the three-day event incorporated a Media
Workshop held in collaboration with the Malaysian Press
Institute (MPI), conference and exhibition and a gala dinner for
conference participants and invited guests.
Some 25 media representatives participated in the workshop while about
200 people attended the conference during which five papers were
presented touching on subjects ranging from media and Islamic
tourism and Asean and beyond to the sophistication of global
conference ended with a panel discussion on Tourism Fast Forward
2020 - Where Will We Be? The following are some of the points
raised during the workshop and the conference.
Defining Islamic Tourism
conference organisers described it in economic, cultural and
religious terms. As an economic concept, it aims at the
expansion of tourism within the Muslim world and non-Muslim
world, developing new tourist destinations and strengthening
institutional and governmental cooperation.
cultural concept, it focuses on Islamic topics in the
organisation of tourist programmes and presents Islamic heritage
sites which Muslim and non-Muslim tourists can visit.
conservative concept, it aims at the adjustment of the tourist
industries to the fundamental interpretations of Islam,
including gender-segregated and alcohol-free venues as well as
"Islamically" financed and organised tourism.
MPI chairman, Datuk Chamil Wariya
define it, Islamic tourism should be expanded to both Muslim and
non-Muslim world. It should be approached in a holistic way to
explore new dimensions and angles. It should not be limited to
only umrah and haj tours.
the capacity to promote Islamic tourism. If millions come here
for the Thaipusam celebration, they can also be enticed to come
during other religious festivals.
NTCM president Datuk Mohd Zainal Abidin
to look for new horizon of global tourism and play a leading
role in promoting Islamic tourism. Muslims are travelling
extensively so their needs must be addressed. We must coordinate
Islamic efforts and form relevant committee in this respect.
GITC organising chairman, Datuk Ahmad A.
proposal made at this conference is to form a World Islamic
Tourism Secretariat to serve as the platform to coordinate
Islamic tourism efforts and form a link between countries. It is
an idea that cannot be implemented without the support and
participation of like-minded bodies, associations and NGOs
involved in the tourism business in the country and other parts
of the world, and they need not come from Islamic countries
alone. Let's take baby steps and work towards a body that can
truly represent the industry as we look towards breaking the
so-called new frontiers.
Thailand's Travel Impact Newswire
executive editor Imtiaz Muqbil
Islam is a
religion of peace and tourism is an activity of peace. It is
part of the process of peace building and developing relations
between people. The building of peace - whether involving people
or the environment - is very much part of Islam.
This fact about Islam and Muslims being peace loving and kind to
others of different faiths is often overlooked.
There is a
need to level the playing field while enough is enough (about
the persecution of Islam). Western countries often make sweeping
judgements about a faraway country like Malaysia when a small
isolated incident happens, by dishing out travel advisory not
based on facts.
As we take
the process of building Islamic tourism, we must see it as a
process of building peace. Tourism can help address
misconceptions of Islam and many people can do this -
journalists, tourist guides, etc. There are simple things we can
do, such as improve the quality of Press releases, especially
those coming from Islamic news agency, develop a community of
media in Islamic countries and synergise the different forms of
communication from magazines to websites and make it a regular
practice to focus on our strengths rather than allow others to
hijack on our weaknesses.
London's Business News Television
executive producer and director Reza Kalamadeen
lacking from Islamic context and point of view. Now, they (news
reports) are more on the negative than the positive. Many
Islamic countries are reactive rather than proactive. This has
to change. Tell about all the good things first and not react
only when something bad has happened. Be proactive to get the
warmly welcome visitors and it is important for non-Muslims to
know that we exist and to know, learn and appreciate us.
1.6 million Muslims in the United Kingdom and 16 million Muslims
in Europe and it is an enormous market to tap into. It is also a
vast market for halal consumer goods. We should be able to reach
out to the world and give the correct view that Islam is a
religion of peace, tolerance and beauty.
Bernama News Agency editor-in-chief, Yong
information is needed on the ground on "daily operations" basis
to inform the public on Islam and Islamic related products here.
textbooks tell us that Muslim traders and missionary first
landed in Malacca to convert locals to Islam but today there is
no trace for visitors to go and see the historic site.
of old mosques in Malacca has Chinese influence but there is no
clear, readily available information for visitors keen on
history and culture to appreciate.
could be done to cater for foreign transit passengers at the
Kuala Lumpur International Airport on their way to perform haj
in Mecca. Tours could be arranged for them to see the mosque in
Putrajaya and tell them our history and culture.
We can also
tap the lucrative tourism market via food in line with Malaysia
aiming to become a halal hub. Muslim tourists can come here
without "was was" (any doubt).
Korea Tourism Organisation (Malaysia)
managing director Kim Kee Hun
Tourism Organisation has embarked on 10 major tourism promotions
this year and one of it emphasised on the Muslim market. The
country has made it a priority to meet the needs of Muslim
tourists by making the facilities and services in the country
friendly to Muslims. The efforts include increasing the number
of halal restaurants, building mosques and suraus, producing
Muslim travel guidebook and supporting Muslim travel agents.
Tourism Malaysia director general Datuk
Mirza Mohammad Taiyab
the world the other side of Islam as the negative side has
already been told (by the biased media) for "free".
you get for free; good news, you got to pay.
We have a
crisis management team to respond to this at the appropriate
time. Among the steps include organising mega familiarisation
tours by inviting international journalists to come and see our
country for themselves.
Work is in
progress to put together a tourism marketing plan for the
Organisation of Islamic Countries until 2010 which is Visit OIC
efforts undertaken to promote Malaysia's Islamic tourism include
highlighting tourism products and events suitable for the Muslim
market segment, continuing with the Malaysia Truly Asia branding
as it is very well established worldwide, adopting a
destination-focussed approach to appeal to the different
markets, developing dual-destination marketing strategy and
promoting Muslim tour packages that enhance Malaysia's appeal as
an interesting destination for Muslim tourists.
Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery
about people. It's not about the commitments of governments and
large corporations. It is really about a way of life. This is
important. The people must know the value tourism brings. It is
a "crime" to disturb tourists as tourism advocates tolerance and
a way of life that must be respected by others.
In the old
times, travelling was very much part of the Islamic way of life,
for example Arab traders travelled the world not only to trade
but also to spread Islam.
receive many Arab tourists and they come here not just to see
our mosques and learn about our history but also to shop and
visit places of interest. They view Malaysia as a safe
destination and a shopping haven.
Melewar Group Berhad managing director
Tunku Iskandar Tunku Abdullah
A total of
1.5 billion or 20 per cent of the world population are Muslims.
If we were to target just 1 per cent of the Muslim population,
it will be an enormous market (to tap), even for us to visit
each other's country. There's much that we could do among
Islamic countries. Setting up the Islamic Secretariat is timely.
Set it up first so that a lot of things can take off.
Taken by Mohd Azeri Hairuddin: 2009-2011
3 August 2015