Bismillahirrahmanirrahim. In the name of Allah The Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.

Assalamualaikum WHB (May Peace Be Upon You) from Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) in Malaysia. 

Before I begin, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for being able to pen down a few words for this Director-General’s note. 

Next, it is also my pleasure to extend my warm Maal Hijrah wishes to all Muslims as we usher in the month of Muharram 1443AH, and along with it, the new Hijri year. In case our readers have not known, in Malaysia, this occasion is also celebrated as Awal Muharram, and in conjunction with the Islamic New Year, may it bring us more peace, love, health, success, and most of all, speedy recovery from this challenging period, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Firstly, I would to like to open my note by sharing the great news that in the recent MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2021, revealed last month at the inaugural Halal In Travel Global Summit (HITGS) 2021 on 14 July, Malaysia was once again named the top destination of choice in the Muslim travel market. This means Malaysia has defended its position atop the Index, a streak dating back to 2015, when the GMTI was first launched.

That achievement goes in the list of recent notable achievements for Malaysia in the Muslim travel sphere, having been named top country in the Muslim-friendly travel segment in the State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report 2020/21 in November 2020, and more recently, in May 2021, where ITC received the Strategic Business Alliance Award at The BrandLaureate World Halal Best Brand E-Branding Awards 2021. It is a recognition of ITC’s efforts in formulating new strategies to meet the new normal of the business environment to ensure business continuity and sustainability, as well as expanding its role to develop and grow the Islamic tourism segment in Malaysia. 

Dear readers,

Malaysia will soon celebrate the historic National Day (on 31 August) and Malaysia Day (on 16 September) occasions for 2021. This year’s theme for the patriotic season, “Malaysia Prihatin”, symbolises the government’s concern for Malaysia’s multiracial society, to remain resilient and vigilant, in light of the many unpredictable challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, let us celebrate these patriotic and memorable occasions as one which has, and continues, to unite us all as we head towards national healing from the pandemic. We are all in this together, insya Allah.

As we all know, the COVID-19 vaccination programme or PICK was initiated early this year, to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, today, six months into the vaccination drive, we are one of the top nations worldwide in terms of vaccination rate, with an average of 500,000 doses administered daily. Moreover, according to the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV), the total cumulative doses of the vaccine provided throughout Malaysia as of 10 August 2021 was 25,008,230 doses. 

At ITC itself, all of our staff have received their respective first doses of the vaccine, and the number of those who have been fully vaccinated is growing as time passes too. This reflects ITC’s commitment, as an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), towards the government’s efforts in PICK. It also gives assurance to our stakeholders, partners, and vendors, that ITC prioritises health and safety as we move our agenda forward.

Thus, I am grateful that PICK is gaining greater pace each passing day, besides being run in an organised manner. I applaud all Malaysians who are committed towards getting themselves vaccinated as it is one of the best defences available to us in the fight against the pandemic.

Dear readers,

Next, allow me to share more updates concerning Malaysia’s tourism industry in the past few months. The government launched the National Recovery Plan (or Pelan Pemulihan Negara) on 15 June 2021, a four-phase “exit strategy” from the COVID-19 crisis. The Plan’s approach specifies three important indicators for moving the country between phases, namely, the figure of daily COVID-19 cases, intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy and vaccination rate.

On the latter, ITC is confident that with rapid vaccinations gearing up daily, there is light at the end of the tunnel for our domestic tourism stakeholders and industry players, insha Allah. It is hoped that domestic tourism will rebound after interstate travel is allowed, that is in the fourth phase of the Plan. Moving forward from there, insha Allah, Malaysia will be ready to welcome international tourists to our shores once again. I know that our tourism partners are prepared and cannot wait to get back on track once tourism reopens. 

In this regard, ITC, as a Centre of Excellence and point of reference on Islamic Tourism and Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitaity (MFTH) branding, remains steadfast and unwavering in our commitment for industry readiness come the reopening of borders for tourism and travel. 

Thus, it gives me great delight to share that in the past two months, ITC has conducted, or been a part of, more than half-a-dozen knowledge-sharing sessions to remain engaged with our fellow tourism partners, locally and abroad:

For our efforts, ITC has also been featured favourably in several publications, shedding further light on the importance of Islamic Tourism as a way forward for tourism industry players. Please have a read of our media exposure here:

We, at ITC, once again, would like to express our gratitude and thanks to all tourism partners and friends as we continue to take on the uncertainties and challenges amidst this persistent pandemic. We hope to forge greater synergy and cooperation with all of you through our various roles, be it research, training, capacity building, industry development, standard and certification, and consultations and engagements.

I call upon us all to recite a doa to the Almighty to grant us forgiveness, and help us find a solution to our current crisis that is COVID-19. Insha Allah, this tough and challenging time too, shall pass. 

As stated in the Holy Quran, chapter 94, Ash-Sharf (The Relief), verses 5 and 6: “So, surely with hardship comes ease. Surely with that hardship comes more ease.”

Terima kasih (Thank you).

#StaySafe #AskGuidance #MuslimfriendlyMalaysia 

Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan

Director General, Islamic Tourism Centre

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