Holistic approach needed to capture growing Muslim tourist market, says Tourism sec-gen

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KHIVA: A holistic approach that prioritises sustainability, resilience and equity is needed to capture the growing and significant Muslim tourist market, says Datuk Roslan Abdul Rahman.

In reading the national statement, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry secretary-general said the Islamic tourism sector has grown significantly over recent years, driven by the increasing number of Muslim travellers seeking destinations and services that respect their religious beliefs and practices.

“With some two billion Muslim population worldwide, the Muslim tourist market is

shaping a new and significant segment of the tourism industry. This is strategically advantageous for OIC member states to satisfy the growing demand for Muslim-friendly products and services, especially in the tourism supply chain.

“We must adopt a holistic approach to Islamic tourism development that prioritises sustainability, resilience, and equity, particularly in the face of global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, geopolitical challenges, and socio-economic inequalities,” he said at the 12th Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM12) here late Sunday (June 2) evening.

Roslan led the Ministry’s delegation to the (ICTM12) organised by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), held from May 31 to June 2, 2024, in Khiva, Uzbekistan.

Two working sessions were organised during the conference.

In this regard, he said that Malaysia has developed the National Tourism Policy

(NTP) 2020-2030 which advocates inclusivity, sustainability, innovation, and digitisation in the transformation of the country’s tourism sector, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Goals (UNSDGs).

“This policy serves as a guide and basis for planning the development of the tourism industry to optimise its potential as one of the key economic drivers,” said the former ambassador.

He added that Malaysia has identified the Muslim Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH) segment as one of the crucial drivers of economic progress that could be further explored.

“Since 2009, Malaysia has been actively expanding and enhancing its MFTH segment.

“In 2023, Malaysia received over 4.5 million Muslim international arrivals and retained its top position as the premier destination for Muslim travellers.

“This marks the ninth time Malaysia has maintained its top spot in the Mastercard-Crescentrating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2024,” he noted.

Meanwhile, during the ICTM12 senior official meeting’s presentation, Roslan pointed out that the tourism industry in Malaysia has shown gradual growth since the reopening of the country’s borders on April 1, 2022 post Covid-19 pandemic.

“According to the latest data recorded, a total of 5.8 million tourist arrivals were identified in the first quarter of 2024, an increase of 32.5% compared to the first quarter of 2023”, said Roslan.

“Based on this positive development, Malaysia targets the arrival of 27.3 million foreign tourists to Malaysia with a total expenditure of RM102.7bil for the year 2024 in line with the UN World Tourism barometer prediction of the tourism performance post-pandemic following a strong rebound that the industry has shown in 2023,” he added.

He said that air connectivity remains one of the main priorities to increase tourist arrivals in a particular destination.

Based on the Official Airline Guide (OAG) data, Roslan pointed out that Malaysia has 31.6 mil. international flight seats in 2024 which is way lower than Singapore which has 31.6% more flight seats than Malaysia’s.

“It is imperative that Malaysia capitalises on Singapore’s air connectivity to increase the arrivals to the country.

“This can be done through multi-destination offerings either via Singapore – Malaysia’s international airports such as KLIA, Penang, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, or via Singapore – Johor land borders,” he noted.

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