Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri urged more tourism industry players to look at ways of how to reinvent their offerings to cater more adequately to the female clientele.
Speaking at the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) online forum themed “Women in Islamic Tourism Economy” recently, she commended the ITC for playing its role in developing Malaysia as a safe tourist destination by championing the concept of Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality.
“While the concept is driven by the faith-based needs and requirements of Muslim tourists, it also encompasses prioritising the safety, privacy, and comfort of women travellers,” she said.
In her speech, Nancy said one of ITC’s key efforts was the Muslim-Friendly Accommodation Recognition (MFAR) programme which recognises hotels and resorts that cater to the Muslim tourist market needs, among which was the provision of gender-separated facilities such as swimming pools and gyms.
To date, she said a total of 44 hotels in the country have been recognised by ITC under the MFAR programme including local chains and international brands.
ITC’s efforts had contributed towards Malaysia being ranked as the most popular Muslim-Friendly Destination for Women in the 2019 Mastercard-Crescentrating Report, Muslim Women In Travel, she added.
Moving forward, Nancy said the ministry supports ITC’s efforts in developing guidelines for other Muslim-friendly products, hospitality and services in the tourism industry.
These guidelines, she said, would also benefit female travellers regardless of religion, prioritising their privacy and safety during their travels to Malaysia.
On women in the tourism industry, Nancy said the group was often concentrated in low-skilled or informal work in tourism, limiting their capacity to absorb economic shocks such as the effects of the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic.
Moreover, like women in other industries, she said women in tourism typically were faced with unwanted mistreatments.
She said that events such as the forum would address ways to make tourism a safer, more inclusive, meaningful and sustainable space for the growing number of women who were in the tourism industry as both practitioners and travellers. – Bernama