GEORGE TOWN:— Malaysia is a favorite destination for Muslims, especially those from the Middle East, due to its favorable culture, said Islamic Tourism Centre director-general Zulkifly Md Said.
He said the country had the advantage of providing them with, among others, high-quality accommodation, food and places to pray.
“Many countries are trying to provide services and facilities to meet the growing needs of discerning Muslim travellers, with some even branding or packaging their countries as shariah compliant, having halal tours and promoting religious tourism,” Zulkifly said at the 2nd Islamic Tourism Masterclass: Muslim Friendly Hospitality Services Standard conference here yesterday.
Some 150 representatives from the tourism industry that included hoteliers, tour operators, tourist guides and academicians attended the event.
As testimony to the country’s popularity among Muslim tourists, Malaysia was named the second best global shopping destination for Muslim travellers after Dubai by Crescent Rating and MasterCard in September last year.
Malaysia was also declared the number one destination for Muslim travellers in the inaugural Global Muslim Travellers Index in March last year.
In a report by Thomson Reuters and the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, Malaysia topped the report’s halal travel index as the country with the best Islamic economy ecosystem for halal travel for 2014 and last year.
The conference was opened by state religious affairs, domestic trade and consumer affairs committee chairman Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim.
Abdul Malik said there had been a 900 per cent increase in establishments with halal certification in the state.
These establishments, he said, were documented in a directory for the benefit of tourists.
In this regard, the third edition of the directory, in English and Arabic, is expected to be launched next month by the Tourism and Culture Ministry.
The first edition of the Muslim travel guide was launched in 2012.
Malik said the state had also launched a star-rating for surau in hotels, restaurants and public areas.
“Smartphone applications for the location of mosques are also available for Muslim tourists.
“Training for Muslim tour guides is also underway so that we can move to the next level to cater to this particular industry,” he said.
Originally published on www.themalaymailonline.com