KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government is committed to developing the halal and Muslim-friendly tourism industry in Sabah, following anticipated global growth in this sector.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi (pic, centre)said the potential of this segment is huge in boosting the economy of a destination, and could become a game changer for the world tourism industry.
Speaking while opening the International Muslim Friendly Carnival (IMFC) 2019 on Saturday (Dec 7) night, which was being held for the first time in Semporna, he said the federal and state government aims to leverage on this in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020.
“The global halal and Muslim-friendly sector is expected to value around US$220bil or nearly a trillion ringgit in the coming year.
“This segment has grown year to year with more than 165 million Muslims worldwide expected to make travel bookings and go for holidays at their destinations of choice next year.
“Sabah has the potential to become the ultimate destination as we are abundant with nature as well as the known friendliness of the locals, ” said the Silam MP during the tour and travel event at Padang Bandaran, Semporna.
Mohamaddin said upon being aware of this development, non-OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) countries such as the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan were seen intensifying services and facilities that are Muslim-friendly, and offering halal restaurants to attract more Muslim tourists to visit their country.
In general, Malaysia as a Muslim-majority nation should not let go of the the opportunity by improving and adding value to products, services and experiences for Muslim tourists visiting the country, he added.
“Lately, due to the rise of this sector, we are already facing stiff competition from countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which are all working hard to promote their respective destinations.
“We want to achieve our realistic mission to reach 30 million tourist arrivals to Malaysia, with a RM100bil tourism receipts in conjunction of VMY 2020.
“Therefore we must intensify our efforts... Malaysia is ranked at the first place for nine years in a row as the World Main Halal Tourism Destination, according to the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index. This should fuel our motivation further, ” he stressed.
Mohamaddin said on their side, the ministry would focus on smart partnerships with state governments, the private sector, especially tourism industry players, as well as the media as they plan to make this sector one of the main cores under the VMY 2020 strategy.
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