Muslim travel market boasts lucrative potentials

by NURUL SUHAIDI / Pic credit: itc.gov.my

MUSLIM travel market is growing at an accelerating pace and boasts many opportunities owing to its lucrative potentials.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, through Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), is committed to accelerating the halal tourism market in Malaysia catering to Muslim tourists coming from across the globe.

ITC DG Datuk Dr Mohmed Razip Hasan (picture) said as a Muslim-majority nation, Malaysia readily caters to those needs and in the past years, Malaysia has been recognised as the top destination of choice among consumers in the Muslim travel market as Muslim-friendliness goes beyond pilgrimage and visiting holy sites in the strictest sense.

“The term has evolved into one that carries values such as safety, hygiene, cleanliness and respect.

“Businesses that can leverage and fit these needs in the industry will be able to sustain in the long run,” he said during the ITC Muslim-friendly Tourism and Hospitality Forum: Potentials and Perspectives yesterday.

ITC has developed halal standards for Muslim-friendly accommodations and is working toward establishing similar standards for spas, tour packages and healthcare.

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) CEO Mohd Daud Mohd Arif said the country has been recognised as the leading global halal hub, possesses a comprehensive halal ecosystem, global reference and trade centre for the mainstream halal industry.

“As an organisation that has been mandated to drive medical tourism, we are working to enhance our healthcare travel industry in the country through close partnership with private hospitals and promoting Malaysia as the best medical tourism destination.

“Selected partner hospitals may offer niche world class services and cultivate them into a system to cater specifically for Muslim medical travellers following the massive global demand for halal medicine and the increasing need for the halal alternatives,” he added.

To date, MHTC has initiated Malaysia for a niche branding initiative such as transforming into Fertility Hub in Asia, Cardiology hub, Cancer Centre of Excellence and Aged Care destination.

However, to expand, industry players first need to establish an understanding on the dimension of Islamic tourism, the basic of the halal awareness and expectation of Muslim tourists and travellers.

Meanwhile, Teratak Spa founder Liz Othman said there will be a high demand for a Muslim-friendly spa given the current pandemic has now shaped a new lifestyle, needs and expectations among customers.

As safety and cleanliness became their main priority, this has widened the opportunity for wellness business players to offer better service underpinned by those key elements.

She added that as Muslim-friendly travel will become a fast-growing segment, businesses may consider rebranding, rebound with new target market and their offering and elevate the customer trust after a long business closure.

“Another one way of removing the bad stigma around the wellness industry and improve service to sustain the Muslim guest, is through offering services based on gender separation such as therapist and physiotherapy,” Liz said.

This will reduce the scepticism among consumers as they might have to attend the opposite gender trainer or therapist.

Liz also said to initiate the Muslim concept, it is timely to retain more local talents to new training programmes for halal tourism as it will boost confidence for Muslim tourists, as well as create new job opportunities to fill the unemployment gap within young graduates.