In a first-of-its-kind in the world, Malaysia has launched the Muslim Friendly Accommodation Recognition, which is backed by the government. The joint initiative between the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) will recognise syariah-compliant hotels in the country.
Tourism minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said this is a bid to further tap into the growing market of halal tourism in the country.
“The implementation of the recognition will provide opportunities to not only set the standards, but further tap into the Muslim and non-Muslim markets,” he said during the launch at Putrajaya recently.
Mohamaddin added that the concept of Muslim-friendly tourism has started to gain traction in a number of countries around the world.
“This concept focuses on the importance of fulfilling the needs and facilities for Muslim travellers by hoteliers,” he said. This includes hygiene and cleanliness, use of toiletries, halal food, safety and spiritual offerings.
Mohamaddin added that the initiative will also look at attracting more travellers from the Middle East, one of the tourist markets with high spending power.
The recognition, according to Mohamaddin, will also reduce the doubt of Muslim tourists when they visit the country.
To be recognised as a Muslim-friendly property, ITC has issued a set of voluntary guidelines to hoteliers. These include displaying information regarding mosques and Muslim-friendly destinations, in-room prayer facilities such as kiblat direction and the Quran, presence of a halal-certified restaurant with food prepared by Muslim chefs, and time slots at gyms and pools for female Muslim guests.
The guidelines also require for a syariah officer to be present at the premise to ensure syariah-compliant operations.
Hotels that apply for the accreditation will then be divided into three categories – Platinum, Gold and Silver – depending on the number of successful criteria implemented.
According to ITC director-general Datuk Abdul Khani Daud, there are currently 12 hotels that have received the Muslim Friendly Accommodation Recognition.
“It’s still on voluntary basis as of now and we hope that all the hotels in Kuala Lumpur will apply for the recognition by the end of the year,” he said, adding that there is no fee charged as of now.
As part of Visit Malaysia 2020, ITC has several plans in the pipeline to complement the Muslim Friendly Accommodation Recognition initiative.
These include developing sekolah pondok as an edu-tourism product and improving mosque tour experiences.
Last year, the country received 5.2 million Muslim tourist arrivals. Malaysia has held the top position for nine consecutive years in the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Traveller Index.
Global Muslim travellers will reach 160 million by 2020, and is expected to increase to 230 million by 2026.