Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sabah tourism players told to grab a bigger slice of Muslim tourism market

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism industry players need to enhance the quality of their products and service delivery to grab a bigger slice of the burgeoning, lucrative global Muslim travel market.

In the year 2013 alone, the value of the Muslim tourism market peaked USD 140 billion, according to the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF).

Sabah Tourism Board Chairman, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai noted Sabah holds great potential to become a world-class destination which offers quality halal vacation packages which can be enjoyed by visitors from around the world.

“The vast prospect of the Muslim tourism market provides a bright opportunity for local industry players to develop new, improved halal holiday packages, quality services and products at the highest standard which can be enjoyed by Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after officiating the closing ceremony of the regional seminar on Islamic tourism (RESIT 2015), Joniston believed that local industry players need to continue improving their products and services to tap into the vast potential of the global Muslim tourism market.

The explosive rise of halal tourism, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) accounts for 13 per cent of the total global travel expenditure and is expected to reach USD 200 billion by the year 2020.

Malaysia remains a top holiday destination for Muslim travellers around the world, having been rated as the most Muslim-friendly tourist destination for four consecutive years since 2011.

Director-General of the Islamic Tourism Centre, Zulkifli Md Said said travel packages for Malaysia offering halal food, products, Muslim-friendly services and facilities find approval with Muslim travellers from the Middle East and non-Muslim countries.

“Muslim tourists have religious obligations which need to be performed even while travelling and local industry players, including resorts and hotels ensure that certain conditions are fulfilled such as halal food and prayer rooms,” he said.

Held for the first time in Borneo, the annual RESIT seminar was organised by the Islamic Tourism Center (ITC) to promote greater awareness and educate local tourism industry players on Islamic tourism.

This year, the two-day programme from Jan 12 to Jan 13 at the Pacific Sutera Harbour Resort was attended by 63 members throughout the country, including international participants from Brunei, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.