Sultanate Can Be Promoted As Hub For Islamic Tourism

market: David Smith (R), CEO of Global Futures and Foresight UK,
delivers his talk on ‘The rise of Islamic Tourism’ during the
International Halal Market Forum held at International Convention
Centre in Berakas. Picture: BT/Saifulizam

Ubaidillah Masli

Bandar Seri
Begawan –
Islamic tourism can provide an avenue for Brunei to
develop its tourism industry, in the long term goal of diversifying
its economy. A presentation on “Islamic Tourism and Halal
Hospitality” was delivered yesterday by David Smith, the chief
executive of Global Futures and Foresight UK, during the second day
of the International Halal Market Conference which took place at the
main conference hall of the International Convention Centre in

suggested a few ideas and methods through which the
Sultanate could promote itself as hub for Islamic tourism.
He acknowledged that Brunei had to compete with neighbouring
countries which offered similar eco-tourism products to
visitors. However, Smith proposed that the nation could
create a product which combined its rainforest and
environmental attractions with Islamic tourism products.

“(Brunei) is much more
likely to have a halal offering than some of your
neighbouring countries,” he said. “As long as you make it
clear (to the tourists) what is the product (you are
offering to them).”

He said that there were
tourists who wished to

experience the luxuries of
staying in prestigious hotels and going on package
tours, while keeping to Islamic beliefs and values
during the duration of their visit to the country. This
was the “niche” market which Brunei could focus on, he

He stressed the importance of
having the infrastructure developed in order for Brunei to delve
into Islamic tourism. Some of this infrastructure was already in
place in the country, such as the ban of alcohol, providing prayer
rooms and facilities, halal food and other halal-orientated

“(These) people want to travel the
way everybody else does… It is about knowing that the food is
halal without having to ask,” he added.

Smith explained that as a concept,
Islamic tourism comprises three main components. These elements
included the revival of Islamic cultures and the spread of Islamic
values, the economic benefit for Islamic societies and the deepening
of Islamic self-confidence, identity and beliefs.

According to Smith, Islamic tourism
is one of the fastest growing sub-sectors in the tourism market. He
said that the global tourism market was expected to “triple in size”
from 565 million visitors recorded in 1995 to an estimated 1.6
billion visitors by the year 2020. It was also projected that one
per cent of the world GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would come from
this sub-sector alone.

The Middle East and East Asia have
the largest estimated annual growth rate of tourist visitors by
region. These two regions were among the forerunners in Islamic

The Middle East would invest
US$3.76 trillion in travel and tourism, he said. This investment
included the introduction of more than 900 new hotels offering more
than 750,000 rooms by 2020, US$1.8 trillion spent on underlying
infrastructure and US$1 trillion on leisure developments. Some 170
million tourists were expected to visit the region by 2020.
Courtesy of The Brunei Times