With the burgeoning demands for Muslim-Friendly products and services by the Muslim travel market, Islamic Tourism has been identified as one of the critical sectors to encourage economic activities, job creation and employment opportunities in the tourism industry.
The 3rd World Islamic Tourism Conference (WITC), organised by the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), a Company Limited By Guarantee (CLBG) established under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), highlighted various topics which facilitated the transformations and solutions brought about by the Islamic Tourism development.
Former MOTAC Minister Dato’ Sri Nancy Shukri, who officiated the conference, said: “The outlook for the tourism industry recovery is looking optimistic, as more experts now see a potential return of international arrivals to 2019 levels in 2023.”
She stated that Covid-19 triggered a paradigm shift for tourism industry players to embrace a more sustainable, diverse, and inclusive recovery. It’s time for players to move forward with greater purpose by implementing green recovery strategies and new technologies and shifting to policy and business practices that balance tourism’s environmental, social and economic impacts.
“One of the significant forces that we observe shaping the tourism economy is the enormous two billion Muslim population worldwide which is driving a new and significant segment of Muslim travellers,” said Nancy.
“What you are hearing is not merely numbers. The demand for Muslim-friendly tourism products and services to satisfy the Muslim tourists’ leisure, business, spiritual, and healthcare travel needs give impetus to develop the tourism supply chain across all sectors.”
Nancy revealed that Malaysia had been actively pursuing this market since 2009. The country’s experience shows that the Islamic Tourism ecosystem is closely connected with other tourism segments and significant economic sectors.
Clear opportunities along the supply chain
The growth of the Muslim tourist market may sustain sectors such as banking, finance and insurance through payment gateways, digital wallets and travel insurance products created for this market. Similarly, it amplifies the demand for Muslimah fashion and activewear; cosmetics; green technology; Muslim-friendly media, digital entertainment and recreation; halal pharmaceuticals, medical and wellness products and services.
“It’s clear that there are many opportunities for the tourism industry players and entrepreneurs to take advantage of this development and create products and services for this market. Increased Islamic Tourism activities drive product innovation and diversification, entrepreneurial opportunities, and job creation, thus paving the way for people to live improved, enriched, and financially stable lives.
Malaysia believes that Islamic Tourism is the key to reshaping the future of the tourism industry and providing economical solutions to the nation. The promising growth of Islamic Tourism prompted MOTAC to decisively include it as one of Malaysia’s economic recovery strategies, documented in the National Tourism Policy (NTP) 2020-2030,
the nation’s roadmap for tourism prosperity.”
To complement this year’s World Islamic Tourism Conference (WITC), Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) added the exhibition element as one of its offerings during the event. WITC 2022 witnessed more than 460 delegates from the tourism industry and beyond come together to discuss prevailing economic, social, technology, culture and education issues concerning the billion-dollar worth sector.
The three-day event featured 80 booths to showcase the diversity of Islamic Tourism products and services from Malaysia, along with international exhibitors from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkiye, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
In her welcome remarks at WITC 2022, Datuk Saraya Arbi, Secretary-General, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) and Chairman of ITC, said she was delighted that ITC had gathered some 37 local and international moderators and speakers presenting on WITC 2022’s theme, “Islamic Tourism: Inspiring Balance, Transformations and Solutions.”
“I hope this narrative from WITC 2022 will help us at the Ministry level to develop policies and strategies for strengthening the Islamic Tourism industry, which will align with Malaysia Government’s aspiration,” said Saraya.
Saraya highlighted that the subsequent nine conference sessions at the event explored the diverse impact of a well-planned and thriving Islamic Tourism ecosystem on the nation’s socioeconomic, with a particular focus on the tourism industry, the business environment, youth travel movement, sustainability, technology, culture, standards and certification, and education.
Providing value to stakeholders
“To provide additional value to delegates, this year’s conference includes a special exhibition at the foyer of the World Trade Centre where organisations from the tourism industry will showcase their products and services. This new element is part of the value creation that ITC is providing to energise Islamic Tourism with new partnerships, ideas and collaborations.
“ITC is also pleased to reveal the findings of a report we did with a travel consultant, Pear Anderson, titled ‘How Online Ready are NTOs for Muslim Travellers in 2022?’. The report presents an analysis, best practices, and case studies of the importance of online information for Muslim travellers looking for Muslim-friendly holiday experiences.”
Saraya believed that the 3rd edition of WITC would bring new perspectives and information about the Muslim tourist market and how businesses should leverage it to remain competitive.