By AZALEA AZUAR / Pic by BERNAMA
The Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) to develop Malaysia’s Islamic tourism by enhancing the latter’s Institut Pengajian Islam dan Dakwah Sabah (IPDAS).
With the collaboration, IPDAS is now able to provide new Islamic tourism programmes which are Diploma in Islamic Tourism, Diploma in Creative Teachings, Diploma in Digital Teachings, and Bachelor of Contemporary Teachings.
These will be added alongside the institutes’s existing programmes which are currently the Certificate of Foundation in Islamic Studies and Teachings (SAPID), Certificate of Islamic Studies (SPI) and the Diploma in Islamic Teachings (DDI).
ITC would also train both IPDAS’ academic staff as well as industry players to have a broader understanding of Islamic Tourism and Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH).
This is done through seminars on curriculum development and research in the mentioned fields.
The signing ceremony was led by ITC director-general Datuk Dr Mohmed Razip Hasan and JAKIM director-general Datuk Abdul Aziz Jusoh.
Also present was Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) secretary-general Datuk Dr Noor Zari Hamat who believed that the Islamic tourism market is growing and it is expected to accelerate in the future.
“To cater to the rising demand for Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality products and services, one of the many aspects which needs focus is capacity-building, such as curriculum development for institutions of higher learning, to ensure a sustainable and inclusive human resource,” he added.
The secretary-general also felt that this partnership is important to construct a knowledge-based economy that has a sustainable and competitive business environment.
Education creates capable and knowledgeable human capital while tourism will be the one to utilise these resources for industry development, and later bring economic prosperity and national progress.
Hence, education and tourism go hand-in-hand with each other.
“In 2019, tourism contributed to 15.9% of the national gross domestic product (GDP), making it the third-largest sector.
“Thus, tourism is a key industry in Malaysia as it is also the source of income for many Malaysians,” said Noor Zari.
He was also confident that the country’s tourism sector would rebound as an inclusive and sustainable one despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“The National Tourism Policy (NTP) 2020-2030 which was launched in December 2020 speaks a lot about staying competitive, while ensuring sustainability and inclusivity, and this collaboration is aimed at fulfilling the NTP’s aspirations as it all comes down to human capital development,” he said.
Recently Malaysia has been ranked as the best destination of choice in the Muslim travel market, by the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2021.
Noor Zari believed that this rank would serve as a solid base for national tourism stakeholders and industry players to work on.
This would boost the development of Malaysia’s Islamic tourism as more entities are now showing a growing interest in tapping into the said market.
The country’s position as a multiracial, multiethnic and multiconfessional nation makes it a melting pot, which adds value to its list offerings and attractions for all tourists, including Muslims.
Muslim tourists are also attracted to the availability of Halal restuarants, prayer facilities such as ablution facilities, suraus, prayer mats and the indication of the Qiblat sign.
“All in all, Malaysia must continue to lead the way for all things Islamic Tourism and Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality, and always strive to be the best among other nations out there because the competition is growing as observed where more nations are now open to embracing MFTH in their respective tourism sectors,” Noor Zari said.
He assured that MOTAC through ITC is ready to assist tourism paertners who wish to leverage on the niche but lucrative potentials of the Muslim travel market.
“Malaysia offers a wide range of services such as research, training, standards and certifications.
“That goes along with the fact that ITC is also known worldwide as the leading Centre of Excellence, and a point of reference for Islamic tourism and MFTH,” he concluded.