Kuala Lumpur – The surge of Islamophobia in some western countries has resulted into an increased outbound inter-regional travel to “Islam or halal friendly” countries from the Middle East region apart from the increased intraregional travel, a Malaysian senator said.
With the surge of more and more non-Muslim facilitating for Islam or halal friendly tourism, the rhetoric of “fear of Muslim travellers” by some non-Muslim nations, will be a thing of the past, resulting in a more secure and better world,” said Senator Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
“There is certainly a need to coordinate and facilitate those Muslim tourists to destinations they prefer and consider as “Islam or halal friendly”, she said.
She said the inaugural International Islamic Tourism Conference and Travel Mart (ITCM) 2010 is discussing ways and means to facilitate Muslim travel and tourism and also dispel negative perceptions of Islam and to bridge for a greater cultural understanding leading to closer ties amongst Muslim and non-Muslim nations globally.
“According to Chahid Bouamarane of Saudi based al-Tayyar Travel Group, there is a lot of high end tourism from the Gulf so the economic impact will be huge from the outbound travellers and tourists from the Middle East destinations which are `Islam and halal friendly’.
Bearded men and veiled women can be a regular sight in countries which are Islam or halal-friendly.
He feared safety, insecurity and privacy could be the thing of the past,” she said. Travellers want to have fun when they travel and the fear of harassment will make them change their destination.
She said that the time has come for stakeholders in the tourism industry to join together to deliberate and exchange ideas on how to better facilitate bona fide outbound Muslim travellers and tourists to destinations which can be Islam and halal-friendly thereby reaping mutual benefits.
“I trust that this conference cum travel mart is a step in the right direction towards achieving the exclusive B2B and B2C platform for networking and potential sales commitments for the travel and trade industry in the area of Islamic travel and tourism”.
Senator Datuk Dr Mashitah said Malaysia has achieved significant tourism growth and development. In the 1980’s tourist arrivals were at 2.2 million.
Within two decades the tourism market has expanded by five times.
By 2007, Malaysia reached a milestone with 20 million tourist arrivals, which — Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin