Back by popular demand, the 3rd World Islamic Tourism Conference (WITC) kicked off with a smash, welcoming international and local delegates from all walks of the industry in one place to highlight the socio-economic growth benefits of tapping into the Muslim tourist market.
Organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s sole agency responsible for the development of Islamic Tourism in Malaysia, Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), the 3-day event was held at World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur from the 17th to 19th of October.
This year encompassed the theme of “Inspiring Balance, Transformations and Solutions” as a means to re-energise and motivate tourism industry players towards strategic action and tourism recovery by viewing the Muslim tourist market potential as a socio-economic driver.
The exhibition saw approximately 300 delegates daily and an international and local lineup of 40 speakers and moderators and the 3rd WITC was officiated by the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri, who gave her two cents on the economic benefits of investing in Islamic tourism.
“The enormous 2 billion Muslim population worldwide is driving a new and significant segment of Muslim travellers, which will positively impact the overall tourism industry, especially critical now as we work hard towards industry and economic recovery.”
“The demand for Muslim-friendly tourism products and services to satisfy their leisure, business, spiritual and healthcare travel needs give impetus to develop the tourism supply chain across all sectors,” she added.
Over the past few years, this particular sector has been identified as one of the key sectors to encourage economic activities, job creation and employment opportunities in the tourism industry, thanks to the burgeoning demands for Muslim-Friendly products and services by the Muslim tourist market.
According to ITC Director-General, Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Hasan, Malaysia has been seeing its healthy rise up until 2019 before the pandemic broke. It contributed approximately a 20 percent share to Malaysia’s tourist arrivals and tourist receipts. It’s a dynamic market.”
“With people travelling again now, so are the Muslim tourists. It’s a key market to look into and one of the reasons is because they are geographically well distributed in Southeast Asia and Europe, not just the Middle East. You can say it is a global tourist market, protected from location-specific disruptions,” he explains.
To fully grasp the ever-changing landscape of Islamic Tourism, ITC partnered with Pear Anderson, who specialise in tourism strategy and representation for the Southeast Asian and Muslim markets, to conduct a report on the readiness of National Tourism Organizations (NTO) to welcome Muslim travellers.
“We’ve seen this increased in interest from NTOs since the first report we did in 2019,” said Hannah Pearson, Managing Director of Pear Anderson. “To be a truly Muslim-friendly destination, it means looking beyond just Halal food and being inclusive by default without Muslim travellers having to make a special effort.”
In this third instalment, a tourism industry exhibition involving 80 institutions and organisations from the tourism industry and along with international exhibitors, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkiye, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Russia, to showcase the diversity of Islamic Tourism products and services from Malaysia.
With the participation of Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs), airline companies, travel agencies promoting Muslim-Friendly travel packages and Islamic cruises, Halal food and beverage operators, public and business visitors were treated to an abundance in opportunity to engage with many players in the industry before coming to a successful close on the 19th.