@Halal April 2019 - Page 20

20 @Halal | april-may. 2019 Tourism tourism Malaysia’s Muslim-friendly The high potential of Islamic attractions in Malaysia T By Maria Azman ravel and tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sector. The sector promotes exports, produces jobs, and generates prosperity across the world. In this era, people from differ- ent backgrounds, languages and beliefs are travelling from one place to another to gain understanding on different cultures. They look forward to learn new things without compromising their origin. As the number of the Muslim population continues to grow, so does the tourism activi- ties of the Muslim tourists. To accommodate this growing industry, Muslim-Friendly programmes more suited to the Islamic principle has been developing as well. The creation of such programmes have made even non-Muslim countries embarking on various Muslim-centric strategies to gain visitors and recognition. Malaysia as a Muslim-friendly tourism destination During an interview with Tuan Haji Mohd Ajib bin Ismail, director of Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI), he shared his views on Malaysia’s Muslim-Friendly tourism. “We should foster Malaysia to become one of the best and beautiful Muslim- friendly tourism destination, in parallel with how God is beautiful and He loves beautiful things.” To cater to the incoming Muslim tour- ists to Malaysia, he suggests promoting the beauty of Malaysia in terms of its delicious local cuisines and its multi-cultural nature. “In the basis of food, we are uniquely varied. Our local delicacies originated from different cultures, even from non-Muslim cultures – and it can become a unique sell- ing point for Muslim tourist with a longing to taste different ethnic foods that are also halal.” Additionally, Mohd Ajib also explains on the activities related to Muslim culture such as the Silat and archery. “Sunnah archery gives people the chance to experience how the art of archery was during medieval times by wearing the patriot attire while galloping on horses.” Islamic Tourism Centre In order to ensure the sustainability of a Malaysian Muslim-friendly tourism, guide- lines for hospitality services and strategic policies have to be expanded and the right conditions to move the industry forward has to be created. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) is being assisted by Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) in undertak- ing strategic tourism research and market intelligence as well as providing training and capacity building services in relation to Islamic tourism. Tuan Haji Mohd Ajib stresses the importance of Muslim-friendly tourism in Malaysia, as it can benefit the Islamic reputation alongside contribute to the country’s tourism industry. We should foster Malaysia to become one of the best and beautiful Muslim-friendly tourism destination, in parallel with how God is beautiful and He loves beautiful things.” — Tuan Haji Mohd Ajib Recently, ITC completed a research on “Profiling of Mosques with Tourism-Related Attractions within the Tourism Corridors in Malaysia”. The findings of the research focus on the analyses and evaluation of the current status and future prospects of mosque tour- ism in Malaysia. RAHMAH Mosque The research is being served as a reference point for tour operators, tourist guides, hoteliers and other industry stakeholders to attract tourists to Malaysia. According to Mohd Ajib, “Islamic tourist sites such as mosques function not only as a place of worship for Muslims but also a medium of social action that may encourage interac- tion between tourist and local people as well as among different components of the multiracial population”. JAWI is working together with ITC as a strategic partnership to strengthen the build out and progress of mosque in the federal territory. He also said that the concept of ‘RAHMAH’ is to be promoted as a concept for Malaysian mosques. “RAHMAH brings the meaning of Friendly. R is for ‘Rahmah’ (Mercy), A is for ‘Aman’ (Peaceful), H is for ‘Harmoni’ (Har- monious), M is for ‘Mesra’ (Friendly), A is for ‘Alami’ (Natural) and H is for ‘Hormat’ (Respect). By implementing this concept, even the non-Muslims would feel intrigued to visit our mosques without feelings of phobia or pessimistic.” Mosque-to-Mosque Programme In addition to support the establishment of mosques as a tourist spot, JAWI is also car- rying out a Mosque-to-Mosque Programme. The programme aims to both help and learn in terms of architectural and design from other mosques nationwide and world- wide.