KUALA LUMPUR: Halal or Islamic tourism is a lucrative sector that is still largely untapped, and Malaysia aims to continue being the leading destination for tourists from this sector, says Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik.
The country managed to attract 5.3 million Muslim tourists out of a total 26 million tourist arrivals last year.
Muhammad Bakhtiar said a report by Thomson Reuters and DinarStandard showed that halal tourism represented 11.6% of global tourism expenditure and was estimated to be worth US$238bil (RM984bil) by 2019.
Malaysia is not the only country trying to tap into the lucrative market, as countries such as Japan and South Korea were also ramping up their offerings for Muslim tourists, said Muhammad Bakhtiar.
Malaysia, he added, was the top choice for Muslim tourists, especially those from Middle Eastern countries, due to the country’s Muslim-friendly tourism facilities and offerings such as the wide availability of halal food.
“Under the country’s tourism policy, we try to provide facilities that will ease Muslim tourists’ travels such as prayer rooms,” he said in a speech read out by the ministry’s deputy secretary-general Datuk Haslina Abdul Hamid.
This was done at the launch of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents’ (MATTA) B2B Islamic Halal Tour 2018 at the Seri Pacfic hotel here yesterday.
MATTA deputy president Mohd Akil Yusof said the one-day event, the first of its kind held by the association, attracted more than 100 buyers and sellers of tourism products.
He added that the event was also focusing on Lombok, Indonesia, as a way for MATTA to help the island recover after its recent earthquake hits.
“We feel their pain and this is one of the ways we can help Lombok.
“We hope that it can recover quickly (from the tragedy),” he added.
Mohd Akil said the event was also held close to MATTA Fair September 2018 as an initiative to support those participating in the fair.
It will be held from Sept 7 to 9.