You’re Muslim, and you’re looking to escape the country for a holiday. Malaysia will most likely be at the top of your mind. You can chomp on different cuisines and not worry about whether the meat is clean for you, or if there’s alcohol in that sauce. You get to shop and explore to your heart’s content, without having to think of praying in a cramped corner of a shopping mall, like the staircase landing, or sometimes a changing room. This is what Malaysia will continuously work on to attract the 1.7 billion Muslim population, both domestically and overseas, to relax and enjoy on its shores.
The majority-Muslim country has set itself yet again, as the leader of the Islamic economy. Having been constantly recognised as the leader in Halal, Islamic Finance, and Islamic Tourism, Malaysia is now seeking to improve its tourism by setting the standards to become the best Muslim-friendly country for Muslims around the world looking for a holiday destination.
Muslim Customers Are Demanding for High Quality Services.
The world’s first government initiated standard, MS 2610:2015- Muslim Friendly Hospitality Services- Requirements, on Islamic tourism was launched on 2 December 2015 at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur. It builds on the criteria of successful existing players in the industry who were among the earlier adopters of Muslim-friendly policy. The document will henceforth set the criteria for the Malaysian tourism industry to better serve their Muslim clients.
Yang Berhormat (YB), Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, the Deputy Minister of Tourism & Culture of Malaysia delivered the opening remarks and officially launched the standard in the presence of Yang Berbahagia (YBhg) Datuk Fadilah Baharin, Director General, Department of Standards Malaysia, and Zulkifly Md Said the Director General of the Islamic Tourism Centre.
“Quality (of service) is not a choice but is increasingly demanded by the consumers,” said Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.
To study the best standards in the industry the document was initiated in 2012 before undergoing a public comment period from August till the end of September 2014, and finally released as a published document (Malaysian Standard) in January 2015 after obtaining approval from MOSTI.
“Quality (of service) is not a choice but is increasingly demanded by the consumers.”
Islamic Tourism Masterclass for Service Providers complements the Standards Document
Along with the standard, three different government bodies collaborated together to launch the Islamic Tourism Masterclass- the Department of Standards Malaysia (Standards Malaysia) which is the national standards and accreditation body under the Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation (MOSTI), and Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism & Culture (MOTAC).
Held on the same day as the launch of the MS 2610:2015 the Masterclass gathered hoteliers, travel operators, tourists guides and academics to exchange experiences and ideas.
“You will learn not from only technical experts in standards development, but from members of your own tourism fraternity, who will be sharing their knowledge, experience, technical know-how and their own success stories,” said Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin. This exchange is meant to set up a systematic assurance system to preserve the integrity of Islamic tourism products services in the three categories of accommodations, tour packages, and tourist guides.
All Malaysians involved in the tourism and hospitality sectors, both Muslim and non-Muslims, would benefit from the masterclass as they gain more experiences by sharing with each other on how to improve their products and services to attract repeat visits from Muslim travellers to the country.
Muslim countries who are part of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) are not the only ones wanting to claim a piece of the USD 230 billion global market share of Muslim travellers (according to 2014 “State of the Global Islamic Economy” report by Thomson Reuters). With countries like Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand hot on their heels, countries need to increasingly cement their position as a thought leader of this Halal industry by setting and following such standards.
“Other countries are welcome to learn from our standards,” said Zulkifly Md Said, Director General of the Islamic Tourism Centre.
(From left) Yang Berbahagia (YBhg) Datuk Fadilah Baharin, Director General, Department of Standards Malaysia, YBrs Zulkifly Md Said, Director General of the Islamic Tourism Centre and Yang Berhormat (YB), Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, the Deputy Minister of Tourism & Culture of Malaysia looking through the MS 2610:2015- Muslim Friendly Hospitality Services- Requirements.
Report by Nur Safiah Alias.
Photo by Azmer Aziz.