Industry prepares for Islamic tourism surge - Metro News

Saturday, June 22, 2019

THE Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is aiming to boost Islamic tourism through its Islamic Tourism Expo 2019.

Held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur, the second edition of the expo aimed to expose MATTA members to the key sector in Islamic tourism, which is umrah and hajj, estimated to be worth around RM2bil.

With 200 participants comprising both buyers and sellers, MATTA is taking this opportunity to develop and grow Islamic tourism as well as facilitate the business of its bumiputera members.

At the official launch of Islamic Tourism Expo 2019, Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said the untapped Muslim travel market had great potential for the country and industry players, offering a wealth of business opportunities and revenue streams.

“There is an urgent need to continue exploring Islamic tourism to unleash opportunities that can further contribute to the country’s GDP and global economy,” he said.

“By understanding the unique needs of Muslim travellers, it definitely can benefit destinations, accommodation providers, travel agents, restaurants, airlines and any travel-related entity.

“I am astonished to learn the Muslim travel market is valued to be worth around US$180bil (RM751bil), with this figure expected to increase rapidly over the next few years.

“By 2020, the market value is estimated to reach US$220bil (RM918bil) and US$300bil (RM1.251tril) by 2026, and will make up a significant percentage of total global expenditure,” he shared.

“It is a wonderful time for the tourism industry as we are gearing up for Visit Malaysia 2020, with an expected arrival of 30 million international tourists and US$25bil (RM104bil) in tourist receipts.”

Bakhtiar said they had allocated RM100mil for Visit Malaysia 2020 tourism promotions.

He said 27 tourism offices would be ramping up efforts to enhance marketing in the region to attract more tourists to the country.

The deputy minister added that he had chaired a meeting to ensure entry points at airports were smooth for tourists.

Additionally, he said Malaysia would support their tourism promotion plans.

Bakhtiar pointed out that 5.2 million Muslim tourists visited Malaysia last year, and 535 flights from Muslim countries flew to Malaysia weekly.

“The top five tourist arrivals (from Muslim countries to Malaysia) are from Indonesia, Brunei, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,” he said.

“The top five spenders in Malaysia are from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Iran and Kuwait.”

For instance, he said each Saudi Arabian would spend RM11,628 during his or her 10-day stay while a tourist from UAE would spend RM9,388 during his or her nine-day stay.

MATTA’s Islamic Tourism Expo 2019 organising chairman Mohd Azri Abdul Razak said the one-day flagship event with 200 participants from seven countries was held following its success last year.

“This year, the vendors are from Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East.

“They will showcase their Islamic tourism products and services, which could ease our members’ access to products on offer across so many destinations,” said Mohd Azri.

He said the sizeable and lucrative umrah and hajj market in Malaysia had attracted interest from travel agents.

MATTA’s partner in organising the expo was Hajj People from London.

Hajj People chief executive officer Mohsin Tutla said Malaysia was the best choice for Muslim travellers as it offers halal food and good hospitality.

“It has become a honeymoon destination, even for my brother,” said Mohsin.

Mohsin said policy changes in Saudi Arabia were expected to bring more companies handling umrah packages to carry out direct marketing in Malaysia.

“I can foresee 50 companies developing joint ventures as Malaysia has strong regulations to support the travel sector,” he added.

Business-matching sessions between the buyers and sellers also took place at the event.