KUALA LUMPUR, 10 JANUARY 2024: YB Dato Sri Tiong King Sing, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) hosted 35 Imams from China at a Welcome Dinner held in conjunction with the Imam Familiarisation Trip (Fam Trip): Discover Muslim-Friendly Malaysia that kicked off this morning in Putrajaya. The Fam Trip, jointly organised by Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) and the Malaysian Inbound Chinese Association (MICA) is a response to Prime Minister’s Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s call for a strengthened focus on Muslim-Friendly Tourism in Malaysia. This initiative comes as part of the broader tourism recovery efforts, supported by a dedicated budget allocation of RM350 million in 2024.
China has consistently been a key tourism source market for Malaysia, and recognising the vast potential for the untapped Muslim market in the East Asian nation, ITC is dedicated to supporting MOTAC in deepening the interaction between the Muslim communities in Malaysia and China and expanding opportunities for the Malaysian tourism industry.
To drive these efforts, MOTAC recently announced new measures to enhance connectivity and ease of travel between the two countries. In addition to the recently unveiled Malaysian visa liberalisation plans, efforts are underway to optimise flight connectivity. Following negotiations with several airlines, travellers from China and Malaysia can anticipate the launch of a round-trip flight from Xi’an to Kuala Lumpur in March and a chartered flight from Urumqi to Kuala Lumpur in May or July this year. These initiatives aim to optimise connectivity, ensuring a seamless experience for tourists visiting Malaysia.
Malaysia takes pride in its reputation as a Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality ecosystem brand, securing the top spot in the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2023 for the eighth consecutive time. In line with the Government’s commitment to strengthening Malaysia’s Muslim-friendly ecosystem, ITC is working towards establishing Malaysia as a regional ‘Umrah Hub.’ This initiative will provide Muslim tourists, including those from China, with the opportunity to explore Malaysia’s diverse attractions before or after performing their Umrah.
The current Familiarisation Trip (Fam Trip) for the 35 Imams is particularly significant as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia in 2024. In the course of seven days, the Imams will be introduced to Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage, historical landmarks, and vibrant traditions, along with its Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality offerings through a carefully curated itinerary that covers the regions of Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Seremban, Port Dickson, Shah Alam and Bentong. Upon their return, the Imams are expected to share their Muslim-friendly Malaysia experience to their respective Muslim communities back home, serving as great ambassadors for our country.
As we step into 2024, the collaborative efforts between ITC and MICA will hopefully lead to further collaborations within the industry, exploring new horizons within the vast and growing Muslim tourism market.