PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has introduced the "Muslim-Friendly Hotel Recognition" initiative, a form of accreditation which recognises syariah compliant accommodation for tourists.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said the accreditation, implemented by the Islamic Tourist Centre (ITC) is the first of its kind in the world issued by a government agency.
“We are the first country in the world to have a government-backed initiative. Such standards or accreditation currently out in the market are all released by travel entities.
“The implementation of the Muslim Friendly Hotel Recognition is an important initiative to empower the tourism industry, especially the Islamic tourism segment to begin developing the industry towards its next phase.
“This recognition will assist those involved in utilising the Muslim Friendly Hotel Recognition to set the standards for others to follow,” said Mohamaddin, in his speech at the launch of the initiative held during the Muslim Friendly Tourism Forum.
Mohamaddin said Malaysia acknowledges the potential of the Islamic tourism sector as travellers from Muslim countries, especially the Middle East, are the biggest spenders in Malaysia’s tourism industry.
“The Islamic tourism sector is a high potential market segment. Malaysia has been at the pole position for nine consecutive years in the Global Muslim Traveler Index which studies the patterns and trends of Islamic Tourism globally.
“In 2018, Malaysia recorded an estimated 5.2 million Muslim tourist arrivals. The enormous potential of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide should be seen as an opportunity by all relevant tourism stakeholders.”
“The index also estimates that there will be 160 million Muslim travellers by 2020. This figure is expected to increase by 230 million by 2026,” he said.
Mohamaddin added that “non-Muslim countries” such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have also begun tapping into the Muslim traveller market.
ITC director-general Datuk Seri Abdul Khani Daud explained later at a press conference that the accreditation is developed with Sirim Berhad, adding that 12 hotels have already received Muslim-Friendly Hotel Recognition
There are three levels of accreditation; platinum, gold and silver, based on the level of compliance to the standards that have been set.
Among the criteria to fulfil the standards include proximity to mosques and other Islamic attractions, in-room prayer facilities such as praying mats and kiblat direction signs, halal-certified restaurants, segregated gyms and swimming pools for women.