Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), YB Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan (middle) headed the Malaysian delegation at the first Meeting of the Malaysia-Russia Working Group on Tourism Cooperation

PUTRAJAYA, 30 MAY 2024: Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) successfully completed a trip to  Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia from 14 to 19 May 2024. The mission was to propel Malaysia as an ideal Muslim-friendly destination for the USD 225 billion-worth global Muslim tourist market. 

A pivotal moment during the mission was the participation of the Malaysian delegation at the historic first Meeting of the Malaysia-Russia Working Group on Tourism Cooperation at the Russia – Islamic World Kazan Forum 2024. Convened on 15 May 2024, the meeting was co-chaired by YB Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia and H.E. Dmitry Vakhkurov, Deputy Minister Economic Development (Russian Federation). The meeting laid the foundation for collaboration between Malaysia and Russia in advancing their respective tourism industries.

Nizran Noordin, Director-General of Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC).

Nizran Noordin, Director-General of ITC played a key role in discussions pertaining to Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH) sector during the working group session. Through presentations on  “Development of the Tourism Sector in the Russian Federation, including Halal Standards” and “Malaysia’s Success Stories”, Malaysia generously offered insights into the nation’s achievements in catering to the rising Muslim tourist market.

The Director-General also outlined Malaysia’s approaches to developing an MFTH ecosystem to serve the Muslim tourist market. This ecosystem includes the ITC-developed Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality Assurance and Recognition (MFAR) and Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guide (MFTG) that have catalysed economic activity within the sector.  The discussions also centred on identifying synergies to enhance the tourism experiences offered by both Malaysia and Russia, paving the way for mutual cooperation and growth. 

Acknowledging the keen interest among attendees in MFTH and Malaysia, Nizran noted, “We are pleased that the bilateral discussion led by the YB Deputy Minister (of MOTAC) was successful and positively received by the Russian side. There is a notable interest in Malaysia, in fact at the moment, we have more Russians travelling to Malaysia than vice versa. ”

The trip also saw ITC strategically engaging the local travel agents through meetings and networking sessions. These sessions proved instrumental, allowing Malaysia to delve into the demands and interests of the addressable Muslim market in Kazan, that makes up a significant portion of the Republic of Tatarstan population, positioning the destination for effective penetration and growth. 

“This mission has been fruitful, specifically as we are now in discussion with major tourism industry stakeholders in Kazan to harmonise both parties’ MFTH guidelines, aiming to formalise a mutual understanding by the end of this year. Our focus is on enhancing connectivity between Kazan and Kuala Lumpur in addition to increasing promotional awareness about both countries, which will hopefully expedite tourism industry and economic growth for all parties involved,” elaborated Nizran on the meetings.

YB Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, with H.E. Dmitry Vakhkurov, Deputy Minister Economic Development (Russian Federation).

Reflecting on the successful conclusion of the mission, the discussions and connections forged to underscore Malaysia and Russia, particularly the city of Kazan’s steadfast commitment to enhancing tourism cooperation. 

Moving forward, ITC eagerly anticipates collaborating with local and global destinations interested in adopting MFTH practices, especially as it gears up to welcome more tourists for Visit Malaysia 2026 and solidify Malaysia’s position as the primary Umrah transit hub in Asia.  Destinations and organisations seeking to tap into the promising Muslim tourist market are encouraged to reach out to ITC at to explore the adoption of programmes such as MFAR and MFTG.


About Islamic Tourism Centre

Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) is an entity under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia, tasked to develop the Islamic Tourism segment for Malaysia. It advocates for Muslim-friendly tourism (MFT) by offering research and market intelligence, training, industry development consultation, Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH) services standards and recognition, and information exchange.

Malaysia was named the top country in the region in the MFTH sector by the State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report 2022. The country also retained the top-ranked destination in the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2024, a position it has defended since the launch of the Index in 2015. In the same year, Malaysia was recognised as the Top Muslim-Friendly Destination of the Year (OIC) and the Top Muslim Women-Friendly Destination of the Year in Halal in Travel Awards 2024.

In addition, ITC was named the recipient of the Strategic Business Alliance Award at The BrandLaureate World Halal Best Brand E-Branding Awards 2021. It is a recognition of ITC’s efforts and endeavours in formulating new strategies to meet the new normal of the business environment to ensure business continuity and sustainability, notwithstanding its role in developing and growing the Islamic tourism segment in Malaysia.

These recognitions are an added motivation for ITC to continue to strengthen its efforts in being a prime mover and leading institution to ensure Malaysia is at the forefront of MFTH.

For further details, kindly contact:

Islamic Tourism Centre,

Level 13, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia

No. 2 Tower 1, Jalan P5/6,

Precinct 5, 62200 Putrajaya, Malaysia

Tel: 03-8891 7177 or via email

Follow ITC on these social platforms:

Facebook: Islamic Tourism Centre

Instagram: @itc_my

LinkedIn: Islamic Tourism Centre

TikTok: @itc_my

YouTube: Islamic Tourism Centre

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