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MALAYSIA TARGETS ISLAMIC TOURISM


Malaysia recently started an initiative to encourage tourist arrivals from Muslim nations and Muslim communities abroad with the launching of the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) in Malacca. The establishment of the ITC is in line with the country's aim to make Malaysia a major global tourism destination.


Malaysia recently started an initiative to encourage tourist arrivals from Muslim nations and Muslim communities abroad with the launching of the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) in Malacca. The establishment of the ITC is in line with the country’s aim to make Malaysia a major global tourism destination.

“Islamic tourism is expanding [into] a niche market which is growing in importance,” said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othmad Said. 

Azalina also said that Islamic tourism covered numerous aspects, including the economy and the arts.

“In terms of the economy, the Islamic tourism [industry] aims to expand tourism within the Muslim world, develop new tourist destinations and strengthen cooperation between governments and institutions in Muslim countries,” Azalina said. With regard to the arts, Islamic tourism would focus on tourism programs and events that are acceptable to the religion.

Serious discussions about boosting Islamic tourism in Malaysia began in the middle of 2008, during the inaugural Global Islamic Tourism Conference and Exhibition, which was held from July 30 to August 1.

In the beginning of the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak called for Malaysia’s leadership in developing the Islamic tourism industry. “Malaysia should take the lead in this. I believe the time has come for some concrete efforts to galvanise our joint abilities to work on this initiative properly,” he said.

Participants of the conference discussed many aspects of Islamic tourism. First, they agreed on a definition of Islamic tourism in economic, cultural and religious terms. As an economic concept, it expands tourism within the Muslim world and non-Muslim world, develops new tourist destinations and strengthens institutional and governmental cooperation. As a cultural concept, it concentrates on the organization of tourist programs for Islamic heritage sites that Muslim and non-Muslim tourists can visit. As a religious concept, it aims to adjust tourist industries to the fundamental interpretations of Islam, including gender-segregated and alcohol-free venues and “Islamically” financed and organized tourism.

Other issues that were discussed during the conference include the participation of non-Islamic bodies, the involvement of non-governmental organizations, a renewed focus on Islam’s more positive side to counter the Western media’s “biased” negative reports on the religion, the establishment of an Islamic Secretariat and the disbursement of more information on “daily operations” of Islam and Islam related products.

Malaysia and other Islamic countries hope to tap into the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, or about 20 percent of the world population. “From that figure, we can see the huge potential Islamic tourism has to offer. Efforts should therefore be geared towards tapping into this market,” Azalina said.

Source: www.AsiaEcon.org
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Source: www.asiaecon.org |


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