Malaysia is the top country for Muslim-friendly travel


By AGENCY

As many as 200.3 million Muslim travellers contributed US$194bil (RM790bil) in global travel spend in 2019. — Filepic

Malaysia has been named the best country in four out of six sectors in the State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report 2020/21. This includes being the top-ranked country in the Muslim-Friendly Travel (MFT) sector, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

According to the report issued by the international strategy research and advisory firm DinarStandard recently, Malaysia also emerged top in the Halal Food, Islamic Finance, and Pharmaceutical & Cosmetics sectors. Malaysia was also ranked second and fourth in the Media & Recreation and Modest Fashion sectors respectively.

“Realising the huge potential of Islamic tourism under the concept of MFT, Malaysia through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and its agency Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) will continue to increase efforts to gain more market shares through infrastructure and facilities, training, capacity building, and standards and certification as well as promotion by the tourism promotion boards, ” Nancy said in a statement.

In the MFT category, the Malaysian government ranked highest in two out of four benchmark dimensions, namely in governance which refers to regulations related to the tourism industry and awareness in terms of media coverage and stakeholder training.

Nancy said the ministry and ITC had focused on stakeholder training during the downtime generated from the Covid-19 pandemic, which was highlighted in the report.

“ITC offered a series of free online Muslim-friendly tourism-related training sessions, covering topics such as halal certification, the needs of Muslim travellers, and Islamic branding and marketing, ” she said.

In the Muslim-Friendly Travel sector, 200.3 million Muslim travellers contributed US$194bil (RM790bil) in global travel spend in 2019, attesting to its enormous potential. However, the pandemic has crippled growth in this sector, which is only expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

The SGIE offers a comprehensive picture of countries that are currently best positioned to address the multi-trillion dollar global halal economic opportunity.

A total of 81 countries comprising Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries and non-OIC countries with a prominent halal industry presence were covered in the SGIE Report.

Melaka to focus on ecotourism

Elsewhere, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Melaka Chapter is focusing on ecotourism promotion activities as an alternative to weather the Covid-19 crisis.

Its chairman Goh Hock Gin said the effort would add more value to the tourism sector in the state which is famous for its historical attractions and food products among local and foreign tourists.

He said comprehensive efforts by entrepreneurs, state governments and travel agents would help unlock tremendous potential and strengths of ecotourism products in the state.

“Under the Matta Melaka Chapter, we have about 15 travel agents and today we see ecotourism products as one of the new branches that can be further explored and promoted to tourists from within and outside the country.

“As such, we plan to establish a consortium involving travel agents and travellers to intensify efforts to promote and sell ecotourism products in Melaka, ” he told reporters after the Jom Terokai Alor Gajah programme with the Matta Melaka Chapter recently.

Goh said efforts to promote ecotourism products in the state was done not only due to the spread of Covid-19, but to give more options to tourists especially nature lovers.

He said the tourism sub-sector was also able to open up new economic opportunities for locals, especially in rural areas.

Meanwhile, tourist boats at Sungai Kampung Paya Lebar in Masjid Tanah, Melaka are expected to resume operations in the first quarter of next year, said Kampung Paya Lebar Masjid Tanah Berhad cooperative chief executive officer Yaaman Yusoff.

Yaaman, who is also the Kampung Paya Besar Village Development and Security Committee chairman, said the Melaka ecotourism product was still being restored to ensure passenger comfort along with the upgrading of various basic facilities such as the jetty.

“The Sungai Kampung Paya Lebar tourist boats have actually been operating since 2013 through an allocation of RM1.5mil by the Rural Development Ministry.

“Restoration and upgrading work began early this year, but was disrupted due to the enforcement of the movement control order on March 18 and now, work has restarted and is nearly complete, ” he said.

He said the tourist boats were managed by his cooperative in an effort to help the 85 members, who are mostly fishermen, to increase their income.

“Until now, we have eight boats to bring tourists along Sungai Paya Lebar and Sungai Kuala Linggi, a trip that spans 28km, in the morning and night, while the price for the ride depends on the type of boat and ranges between RM40 and RM45 per person.

“Around 10,000 local and foreign tourists have gone on the boat rides to visit ecotourism destinations promoted by the state government under the Kampung Paya Lebar ecotourism centre, ” he said.

According to him, the destinations include Sabak Arang, a charcoal production centre that is over 100 years old, Taman Lokan which is famous for clam rearing and Kota Simpang, the site of a former Dutch settlement.

In addition, tourists also enjoyed the flora and fauna at the mangrove swamp, and can spot monkeys, crocodiles, storks and fireflies as they meander along the river.

He added that those who were interested to fish for lobsters could rent available boats at the price of RM500 for an eight-passenger boat. – Bernama

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