SARAWAK, MALAYSIA, 15 SEPTEMBER 2022: Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, YB Dato Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri today delivered the Keynote Speech at the Seminar Keusahawanan dan Kepimpinan Pelancongan Islam (Islamic Tourism Entrepreneurship and Leadership Seminar – ITELS) held at The Waterfront Hotel, Kuching on 14-15 September 2022.
The seminar is an Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) organised programme, a Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) agency tasked to oversee the development of Islamic Tourism in Malaysia. Its aim is to raise awareness of the advantages and opportunities that this billion-dollar worth sector can offer to the people of Sarawak. With the 2 billion Muslim population worldwide, Islamic Tourism and the Muslim tourist market have steadily become significant in many well-known destinations, including Malaysia.
“Islamic Tourism opens more doors of opportunity for the people of Sarawak to generate income through the tourism industry,” said YB Dato Sri Hajah Nancy. ITELS Sarawak saw the participation of 100 industry practitioners and the local community interested in learning more about this growing sector, and to learn more about the entrepreneurial and employment opportunities it brings. “The Land of the Hornbills” was selected as the location of the fourth instalment of this seminar series for its ability to attract Muslim and non-Muslim tourists with its ethnic, cultural, heritage and flora and fauna diversity.
Since the reopening of international borders on 1 April this year, Malaysia has welcomed 400,186 Muslim tourists, contributing approximately 18%, or RM1.15 billion, to the country’s tourism receipts.
“Tourism product operators and the rakyat of Sarawak should grab the opportunities available in Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality space and leverage on the state’s natural and cultural gems, local customs, heritage cuisines and handicrafts to attract the Muslim tourist market,” said YB Dato Sri Hajah Nancy.
She continued to highlight Mosque Tourism and homestay as some of the activities that best display Sarawak’s famous multi-ethnic groups’ ways of life and cross-cultural values. Santubong was highlighted as an example of a destination that carries strong Islamic Tourism history with the Sultan Tengah Mausoleum located there. The prehistoric archaeological sites at Tanjung Kubor and Sungai Jaong also provide unique storytelling opportunities.
ITC Director-General, YBhg. Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan revealed, “ITELS started as an online training in October 2021 as ITC’s response to the government’s call to open up more roles for the younger generation in national development through human capital development and youth economic empowerment via Islamic Tourism for our youths.”
ITELS Sarawak featured a lineup of 11 speakers to share their expertise in leadership, entrepreneurship, financial management, Islamic Tourism-related standards and certification. Renowned industry players were also invited to talk about their success stories to further motivate and inspire the participants to contribute to the development of the country’s MFTH sector.
This was not the only capacity-building programme organised by ITC in the city of Kuching this week. The Centre also concluded the 3-day “Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guide (MFTG)” training yesterday. Some 30 licensed tourist guides from the Sarawak Tourist Guides Association (STGA) were trained with the skills and knowledge needed to attend to the Muslim tourist market. The participants attended classes on the relevant subjects of the Islamic Tourism Concept, Muslim Tourist Needs and the Malaysian Standard (MS) 2610 – Muslim-Friendly Hospitality by speakers from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) and the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and ITC.
ITC has always been active in helping the public and tourism industry players in Sarawak to strengthen their Islamic Tourism ecosystem. On 27 November last year, ITC, along with Jabatan Agama Islam Sarawak (JAIS) held the first-ever Seminar Pelancongan Masjid in Kuching. A total of 53 participants representing 15 mosques from all over Sarawak joined the programme to learn about the role of mosques in tourism. The programme was followed by a Mosque Trail Tour around Asajaya, Kuching and Sadong Jaya.
Sarawak is showing strong potential as a Muslim-Friendly destination, with 7 hotels across the state being recognised under the Muslim-Friendly Accommodation Recognition (MFAR) by ITC. The hotels are Pullman Kuching, Pullman Miri Waterfront, Hilton Kuching, The Waterfront Hotel Kuching, Grand Margherita Hotel, Riverside Majestic Hotel (Puteri Wing) and Riverside Majestic Hotel (Astana Wing).
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) service standards and certification, and information exchange.
In 2021, ITC received two key awards, i.e. Strategic Business Alliance Award at The BrandLaureate World Halal Best Brand E-Branding Awards 2021, and Best Islamic Tourism Leadership Gold Award 2021 by Malaysia Tourism Council. These are 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 2022, Malaysia was again named top country in the world in the MFT sector by the State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report 2022 by DinarStandard in partnership with Salaam Standard and supported by Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism.
Malaysia also retained the top-ranked destination in the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2022, 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.
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