MOSQUES – A PROMISING ISLAMIC TOURISM PRODUCT FOR SARAWAK’S SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

KUCHING, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA, 27 NOVEMBER 2021: Leveraging on the uniqueness of Sarawak mosques and the state’s rich cultural and natural assets, Mosque Tourism has been identified as an important tourist attraction for the Land of the Hornbills, contributing to the growth of Malaysia’s Islamic Tourism industry and the socio-economy.

YB Dato Sri Nancy Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said: “The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), through its agency Islamic Tourism Center (ITC) has identified a new Islamic Tourism product, namely Mosque Tourism. ITC has collaborated with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia – JAKIM), as well as the state departments and councils of Islamic Affairs (Jabatan dan Majlis Agama Islam Negeri) to develop the concept of Mosque Tourism which has potential as a domestic and international tourist attraction. It also directly opens up new opportunities to revive and revitalise the tourism industry as it is closely linked to the socio-culture of Malaysia.”

According to statistics obtained from JAKIM, there are more than 6,000 mosques in Malaysia, including in Sabah and Sarawak. In addition, a study conducted by ITC in 2018, “Profiling of Mosques with Tourism-related Attractions within Tourism Corridors in Malaysia”, identified a total of 80 mosques nationwide that have great potential to be developed for Mosque Tourism.

The Minister noted: “Sarawak has a variety of mosques with unique and beautiful designs and historical value. The richness of Sarawak’s local culture, natural attractions, local and heritage cuisines, unique handicrafts, ethnic community lifestyle, can be combined with visits to mosques, and this can developed as a tourism package that would appeal to tourists.”

Citing the aesthetic value of Kuching mosques such as Masjid Bandaraya and Masjid India Bandar Kuching, the Minister also noted that there were numerous mosques worth promoting in other Divisions in Sarawak. 

She was speaking at the Sarawak Mosque Tourism Pre-Launch Ceremony held after a seminar on Mosque Tourism, both of which were ITC’s initiatives to drive interest among mosque administrators to understand, learn and participate in Mosque Tourism. This event was also supported by Jabatan Agama Islam Sarawak (JAIS) and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM). A total of 60 representatives from 15 mosques in Sarawak took part in the inaugural seminar.

“The development of an effective, efficient and sustainable Mosque Tourism is an opportunity to strengthen our efforts to prosper the mosque institution and its role as a dynamic house of worship for the local community and tourists alike. The mosque also plays a role as a centre of learning and intellectual growth that holds high regard for Allah SWT’s beautiful and natural creations, while supporting the economic activities of the local community,” she said.

Commenting further, YB Dato Sri Nancy said that Mosque Tourism was a unique and innovative development, in line with the National Tourism Policy 2020-2030 strategy to enhance the touristic experience and satisfaction of visitors to Malaysia. “At the national level, it is a positive development that can promote unity through tourism activities. At the international level, it is an ideal activity to introduce the Muslim community and culture in our country to tourists.”

Training and knowledge as well as collaborations between the mosque and tourism industry players would ensure the success of Mosque Tourism, she added. In this regard, ITC is developing training modules on Mosque Visit Guide Programme (MosVi) with the collaboration of USIM. 

In conjunction with the Sarawak Mosque Tourism Pre-Launch Ceremony, YB Dato Sri Nancy presented the Muslim-Friendly Accommodation Recognition (MFAR) certificates to the following five hotels in Sarawak that were deemed Muslim-Friendly by ITC:

  • Waterfront Hotel, Kuching
  • Hilton Kuching
  • Riverside Majestic (Astana), Kuching
  • Riverside Majestic (Puteri), Kuching
  • Grand Margherita, Kuching

This brings the total of ITC-certified Muslim-Friendly hotels to 49, a number that is consistently growing due to demand from the hotel operators. With the addition of these five MFAR hotels, now Sarawak has a total of seven MFAR hotels, of which, Pullman Kuching and Pullman Miri were the earliest ones.

Praising the efforts of ITC to encourage hoteliers to create a Muslim-Friendly tourism environment, the Minister stated: “The Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality concept is applicable to the entire tourism ecosystem as a branding and marketing tool as well as a unique proposition for Sarawak to attract more Muslim tourists…and thus help the recovery efforts of the tourism industry and economy.”

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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 certification, and information exchange.

In 2021, 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 to develop and grow the Islamic tourism segment in Malaysia.

In addition, Malaysia was named top country in the region in the MFT sector by the State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report 2020/21. Malaysia also retained the top-ranked destination in the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2021, a position it has defended since the launch of the Index in 2015.

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 itc@itc.gov.my

Follow ITC on these social platforms:

Facebook: Islamic Tourism Centre
Twitter: @itc_my
Instagram: @itc_my
Youtube: Islamic Tourism Centre

 

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