Look into Islamic tourism, says DPM


PUTRAJAYA – A coordinating body or a secretariat should be formed to seriously look into the strategies and marketing of Islamic tourism as a niche product, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

The Deputy Prime Minister also proposed that relevant promoters work with international bodies, which subscribed to the same ideals and objectives.

“Malaysia should take the lead in this. I believe the time has come for some concrete efforts to galvanise our joint abilities to work on these initiatives properly,” he said Thursday in his speech at the inaugural global Islamic tourism exhibition and conference here.

“But let me also warn you. Pushing a new idea through is not easy. In fact, it is never easy. Herein lies the challenge before all of you.

“If you set mental blocks within yourself, then you will not succeed. If you allow yourself to be sidetracked by petty issues, and be weighed down by baggage of old taboos and unfounded fears, then you will fail,” he said in his speech read out by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman.

Najib also said promoters needed to adjust accordingly and take into account the global economic environment.

“Your initiative merits careful consideration and meticulous planning. Your initiative to push for Islamic tourism is an idea whose time has come.

“My advice is simple and straight – get your structure in place and come up with a sustainable plan of action. I am quite sure that the Government would want to support such an important initiative. We will see what we can do by way of assistance and support,” he added.

Azalina said her ministry and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is in charge of religious affairs, had agreed to form a joint committee to discuss strategies to promote Islamic tourism.

She said the committee would also communicate with relevant tourism councils and state tourism committees to come up with better strategies for it.

She said strategies applied in 2007 did bring up great output in view of tremendous tourist arrivals including Muslim tourists.

Last year, she said 20.9 million tourist arrivals were recorded with tourism receipts of RM46bil.

“I was told recently that this year tourist arrivals will be affected due to the fasting month and Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays in the Middle East but I assure you next year we will come up with much better strategies.”