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Image of Malaysia as Halal tourism destination

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the image of Malaysia's as a Halal tourism destination. This paper was based on previous literatures, statistics and reports from previous authors. Based on the reviewed literatures, Halal tourism has been one of the major contributors to the global tourist market. It has contributed billions of dollars to the global tourism industry and has been forecasted to grow even more. Malaysia, through the efforts of government agencies and other, has successfully positioned itself in the top list among the countries that is considered as Muslim-friendly destination. This development however, comes with its own issues and challenges, where all these major players have to face, including Malaysia.
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PROSIDING PENGURUSAN HALAL, EKONOMI DAN PERNIAGAAN 2016
PERPUSTAKAAN SULTANAH BAHIYAH UUM
ISBN: 978-967-13903-4-4
2016
1
Image of Malaysia as Halal tourism destination
N.S. Yusof
Emel: nsuhaila@uum.edu.my
K.I. Ramli
Emel: izzuwan@uum.edu.my
N. Mohd Shariff
Emel: hazani@uum.edu.my
School of Tourism, Hospitality and Environmental Management, Universiti Utara Malaysia.
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to explore the image of Malaysia’s as a Halal tourism destination. This
paper was based on previous literatures, statistics and reports from previous authors. Based on the
reviewed literatures, Halal tourism has been one of the major contributors to the global tourist
market. It has contributed billions of dollars to the global tourism industry and has been forecasted
to grow even more. Malaysia, through the efforts of government agencies and other, has
successfully positioned itself in the top list among the countries that is considered as Muslim-
friendly destination. This development however, comes with its own issues and challenges, where
all these major players have to face, including Malaysia.
Keywords: Halal tourism; Halal destination; Muslim friendly destination; marketing Malaysia
Introduction
Muslim population is growing rapidly with some of them coming from the world’s fastest growing
economies. Muslims are constantly searching for products and services that take into account their
faith-based needs. This can be seen through the increase of demand for halal food as well as Islamic
banking, for instance. The typical Muslim consumers are now younger, educated and have more
disposable income and has led to an inclination for travel. The Muslim travel market has been a
growing segment and will have a significant impact to the global travel industry. Consequently, the
travel and hospitality industry has now become one of the largest markets within the Muslim
consumer space.
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Discussion
The Halal Tourism industry
As stated by Youseff (2016), in 2015, the number of Muslim tourists was estimated to be 117
million, which is about 10% of the world’s travel economy. This number has been estimated to
grow to 168 million travelers by the year 2020, which represent 11% of the global travel market
with a projected market value of more than 200 billion USD. Based on reports by CrescentRating
(2015) and UNWTO Tourism Highlights (2015), there were 25 million Muslim travelers in 2000
and the figure grew to 116 million in 2014 with a total expenditure about 121 million USD (Figure
1). It has been forecasted that the figure will increase to 180 Muslim visitors globally with a total
expenditure 212 billion USD.
Figure 1: Muslim visitor arrivals and expenditure, 2000 to 2020
Source: CrescentRating (2015); UNWTO Tourism Highlights (2015) in COMCEC (2016) pp 9.
The Muslim consumer market has been acknowledged as another important segment for
businesses across sectors. According to The Economist (2013), there are 1.8 billion Muslims
shoppers in the world and the Muslims halal travel market is likely to grow by 35% by the year
2030. Halal tourism as an alternative to mass tourism for Muslim tourists has grown significantly in
the last decade. The increased interest has led researchers to begin to focus their research on Halal
tourism. Halal tourism, a term widely used as a synonym for Muslim travel, refers to products,
leisure, recreation and social purposes that comply with Islamic teaching. Halal tourism is a
tourism activity by Muslims that originate from Islamic motivations and are realized according to
Shariah principles (Duman, 2011). Consequently, Halal tourism is a form of tourism for Muslims
2000
25 Million Visitors
USD 20 Million
2014
116 Million Visitors
USD 121 Million
2020
180 Million Visitors
USD 212 Million
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who prefer to utilize services, facilities and activities compliant with Islamic principles. This means
offering tour packages and destinations all over the world that are particularly designed to cater for
Muslim considerations and address Muslim needs. Battour and Ismail (2015) defined Halal Tourism
as “any tourism object or action which is permissible according to Islamic teachings to use or
engage by Muslims in tourism industry”. COMCEC (2016) defined Muslim Friendly Tourism or Halal
Tourism as “Muslim travelers who do not wish to compromise their basic faith-based needs while
traveling for a purpose, which is permissible” or it can also be defined as “Halal conscious travelers,
traveling for any purpose, which is Halal (permissible)”.
In relation to this, Duman (2011) used the term Islamic tourism where it is defined as “the activities
of Muslims traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one
consecutive year for participation of those activities that originate from Islamic motivations which
are not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”. In
addition, Sureerat et al. (2015) defined Halal tourism as offering tour packages and destinations
that are particularly designed to cater for Muslim considerations and address Muslim needs.
The fundamental of Halal tourism includes various components such as Halal hotel, Halal
transportation, Halal food premises, Halal logistics, Islamic finance, Islamic travel packages, and
Halal spa. In addition, the hotels in such destinations do not serve alcohol and have separate
swimming pools and spa facilities for men and women. As suggested by Akyol and Kilinc (2014),
halal tourism consists of different sectors that are related to the tourism industry, which has been
tailored to comply with the halal requirements. Malaysia, Turkey and many other countries are
trying to attract Muslim tourists from all over the world offering facilities in accordance with the
religious beliefs of Muslim tourists. The Halal tourism industry also provides flights where no
alcohol or pork products are served, prayer timings are announced, and religious programs are
broadcasted as part of entertainment offered on board. Because of the demand from the Muslim
market towards Halal service, it is essential for countries to develop a concept for Halal tourism
business that will directly fulfill the Muslim needs to become one of the niche products for the
tourism industry in any country.
PROSIDING PENGURUSAN HALAL, EKONOMI DAN PERNIAGAAN 2016
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2016
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Muslims tourist arrivals and expenditure in Malaysia
Bahardeen (2014) stated the Muslim travel market was estimated to be worth $140 billion in 2013,
accounting for almost 13 percent of the global total. It is expected to rise to $200 billion by 2020. In
2013, Malaysia received more than five million Muslim tourists from Muslim countries (Tourism
Malaysia, 2014). Malaysia has been the topmost Muslim tourism destination in the world, having
Indonesia and Brunei as its top market countries (Tourism Malaysia, 2015) (refer Table 1). The
Muslims Travel Shopping Index (2015) revealed Muslim travelers spent a total of US$62 billion
globally in shopping and dining. In 2013, spending by Saudi tourists in Malaysia hit US$17.8 billion,
followed by tourists from Iran (US$14.3 billion), the United Arab Emirates (US$11.2 billion), Qatar
(US$7.8 billion) and Kuwait (US$7.7 billion).
Table 1: Malaysia top tourist arrivals from Muslim countries (January 2014 & 2015)
Country
January 2014
Growth %
Indonesia
250,264
(0.1)
Brunei
95,792
5.1
Bangladesh
18,059
6.2
Saudi Arabia
11,743
(18.0)
Pakistan
7,507
(10.3)
Iran
6,160
(5.5)
Oman
3,321
20.9
Kazakhstan
2,707
(14.9)
Uzbekistan
2,646
(11.1)
Egypt
2,473
(11.2)
Turkey
1,750
(2.2)
UAE
978
(6.1)
Source: Tourism Malaysia with the cooperation of Immigration Department (2015)
Recent data from Tourism Malaysia (2016) showed that the top five tourist arrivals from Muslim
countries to Malaysia were from Indonesia, Brunei, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and followed by
Pakistan (refer Table 2). However, the top five per capita expenditure of Muslim tourists in
Malaysia were Saudi Arabia with an estimated spending of RM9,459 for an average length of stay of
10 days, Kuwait (RM8,494 for 7.3 days), Oman (more than RM7,900 for 8.7 days), United Arab
Emirates (RM7,389 for 7.6 days) and Iran (RM5,880 for 7.7 days).
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Table 2: Top five tourist arrivals and per capita expenditure of Muslim tourist to Malaysia in
2016
Rank
Top five arrivals from
Muslim countries
Top five per capita
expenditure of Muslim
tourists
RM
1
Indonesia
Saudi Arabia
9459
2
Brunei
Kuwait
8494
3
Bangladesh
Oman
7900
4
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
7389
5
Pakistan
Iran
5880
Source: Tourism Malaysia with the cooperation of Immigration Department (2016)
Malaysia as a Halal travel destination
There has been a surge in the demand for Halal or Muslim-friendly destination. This demand came
particularly from West Asia where the tourists from the region is looking for a sophisticated
holidays that meet with their requirements (Suhaiza, Azizah, and Kopong, 2011). They are
expecting for the availability of foods and services that meet their religious requirement and
therefore Halal has been one of the most important factor for them when making choice of holiday
destination. As with the Westerners, who travel abroad during winter to avoid the extreme
coldness in their countries, these Middle Easterners will take their families for holiday to avoid the
extreme heat during the hot season. As a Muslim country, Malaysia is in the perfect position to tap
this extremely profitable market by luring them to this country by promoting Malaysia as a Halal
destination.
Malaysia has been recognized among the OIC member as the leader in term of Muslim friendly
Tourism (MFT) (COMCEC 2016). MFT classification is developed to categorise the 57 OIC member
states based on their friendliness towards Muslim tourism. They were characterized into four
clusters which are: Group A: Leaders, Group B: Best Positioned for Growth, Group C: Potential for
Growth and Group D: Need to Develop. Malaysia has earned itself to be in Group A cluster, as shown
in Table 3.
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Table 3: Grouping of 57 OIC member states into 4 clusters
Group A
Leaders
Group B Best
Positioned for
Growth
Positioned for Growth
Group C Potential for
Growth
Group D Need to Develop
Malaysia
Saudi Arabia
Brunei
Kazakhstan
Syria
Turkey
Qatar
Tunisia
Bangladesh
Yemen
United Arab
Indonesia
Kuwait
Algeria
Afghanistan
Emirates
Oman
Iran
Azerbaijan
Guyana
Jordan
Bahrain
Pakistan
Suriname
Morocco
Maldives
Kyrgyz
Benin
Egypt
Senegal
Burkina Faso
Comoros
Uzbekistan
Cameroon
Turkmenistan
Tajikistan
Chad
Lebanon
Cote d’Ivoire
Albania
Gabon
Nigeria
Gambia
Mozambique
Guinea
Djibouti
Guinea-Bissau
Iraq
Mali
Libya
Niger
Mauritania
Sierra Leone
Palestine
Togo
Somalia
Uganda
Sudan
Source: CrescentRating (2015) in COMCEC (2016) pp 59
According to Tourism Malaysia (2015), the number of international tourist arrivals to the country
in 2014 was 27.44 million, with 72 billion receipts. Malaysia has retained its first-place position as
the most Halal/Muslim-friendly holiday destination based on the CrescentRating’s Halal Friendly
Travel (CRaHFT) Ranking 2013, under the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) category for
four consecutive years, from 2011 to 2014. The list was compiled by a Singapore-based company,
Crescentrating Pte Ltd, the pioneer and world leader in the development of the halal-friendly travel
market segment worldwide.
In relation to that, the Star (2015) reported that Malaysia was ranked number one destination for
Muslim travelers (out of 100 destinations around the world) by Mastercard and CrescentRatings in
the inaugural Global Muslim Travellers Index (GMTI). Malaysia has also been chosen as the second
best global shopping destination for Muslim travelers after Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
With the notion of awards and recognitions been given to the country, the Ministry of Tourism
Malaysia established the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) in 2009 to assist the government in
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undertaking strategic research and development as well as providing training and services related
to Islamic Tourism. For instance, in 2012 ITC conducted numerous activities such as organising
training courses under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) for foreign
participants; organising tourism seminars for the third world countries with the cooperation of
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); organising Regional Seminar on Islamic Tourism
entitled Developing the Islamic Tourism Trail at various states, preparing a draft blueprint on the
Islamic tourism development strategies; and working together with Brunei to develop Islamic Tour
Experience holiday packages involving both local and Brunei tour operators. ITC also collaborated
with the local universities to conduct various researches on Islamic and Halal tourism (Tourism
Malaysia, 2013). In 2014, continued to educate the travel industry fulfilling the needs and wants of
the Muslim travelers by improving hotel kitchens with the halal certification, as well as separating
the timings for the use of gym and swimming pools for males and females that requiring privacy
(Bahardeen, 2014).
The Malaysian government has introduced many Muslim-friendly tourism initiatives to attract
Muslim tourists. In order to promote Malaysia as a Halal destination, Tourism Malaysia joined the
World Halal Travel Summit & Exhibition 2015 in Abu Dhabi, in order to promote its Halal and
Islamic destination by using the "Muslim-friendly Malaysia" slogan to attract more Muslim
travellers to the country. Malaysia has been acknowledged by the global Muslim community as the
friendliest destination for Muslim tourists due to its complete infrastructure, from proper prayer
facilities to halal food and beverages as well as rich Islamic history and cultural heritage.
Issues in promoting the country’s as a Halal tourism destination
The ranking criteria for being the top halal-friendly destination is based on the attentiveness to the
needs of Muslim travelers; the level of halal food availability including the presence and
accessibility of halal restaurants with meat slaughtered following Islamic standards; halal certified
restaurants; the availability of prayer room facilities at the airports shopping malls and hotels; and
halal friendly accommodation at the main tourist spots of the destination. Under the OIC, Malaysia
is followed by Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to be the top halal-friendly
destination. Indonesia, Morocco, Jordan, Brunei and Qatar make up the remaining destinations in
the top 10 under the OIC category. In the top 10 halal-friendly non-OIC category, Singapore was on
top of the list followed by Bosnia & Herzegovina, Thailand, South Africa, India, United Kingdom, Sri
Lanka, Australia, Germany and Hong Kong (CrescentRatings, 2012).
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Malaysia’s Islamic offerings are of great importance in contributing to the country’s
competitiveness as a preferred destination for Muslim tourists. There are several studies conducted
about Islamic tourism and halal products in Malaysia. Studies by Henderson (2003) and Hashim,
Murphy and Hashim (2007) focused mainly on investigating about the content analysis of official
“Tourism Malaysia” website on their Islamic image to portray Malaysia as a Muslim country.
Rahman (2014) studied Islamic tourists satisfaction and destination loyalty and found that the wide
variety of halal foods was considered as one of the most important attributes of Malaysia in creating
its image as a leading Islamic tourist destination. Meanwhile, studies conducted by Samori and
Rahman (2013) and Sripraset, Chainin and Rahman (2014) stressed about the Malaysia’s Islamic
environment were limited to halal food and halal hospitality in hotels. Salman and Hashim (2012)
studied Middle Eastern tourists in Malaysia and found that from the list of top five countries for
long-haul travel, Malaysia is at the top of the list but Thailand is considered as a major competitor
for Malaysia by Middle East tourists. In order to weigh the competitiveness of the country as an
Islamic destination, it is necessary to compare it with not just Thailand but also other Islamic
countries.
Fatemeh and Badaruddin (2015) stated that there are few weaknesses and threats that Malaysia
has to face in achieving its target to lure more Islamic tourists to the country. Competition from
other Islamic countries such as Saudia Arabia which has a rich culture rooted in Islam, negative
perception due to the fact that Islamic law is loosely implemented in Malaysia. For instance, the fact
that alcohol is still widely served in hotels, restaurants and other public areas could easily tarnish
Malaysia’s image of a Halal destination. According to Choi, Chan and Wu (1999), in order to create
an image that are unique in the world travel market, it is important to understand what tourists
think about the destination and how this impacts upon the marketing of cities as tourist
destinations. Bigne, Sanchez and Sanchez (2008) suggested that tourism destinations should
concern themselves with improving their image if they are to compete successfully in the
competitive holiday market.
In the previous years, Muslim countries were seen as the main halal holiday destinations, but
nowadays many of the European countries are slowly starting to emerge as big players in the halal-
related industry. Despite of the negative publicity that often Muslims received in European and the
Western countries, their tourism industry is becoming more and more Muslim friendly. Due to
negative publicity that often received by Muslims, including the recent attacks from the ‘IS military
group’ and ISIS that always use the name of Islam, that influence the non-Muslims to form the
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negative image of Muslims. The term ‘Islamophobia’ has driven negative sentiments towards
Muslim countries. Choi, Chan and Wu (1999) and Calantone, Di Benedetto, Hakam and Bojanic
(1989) pointed out that it is important to understand the perceptions of tourists, as this helps to
target appropriate markets for tourism promotion and may also assist in improving or correcting
the image of the destination.
Conclusion
The concept of Malaysia as a halal travel destination is the foci of this paper. The Muslim travel
market is and will continue to be one of the biggest contributors to the world travel market.
Malaysia, as a Muslim country, has been recognised as one of the main destinations for Muslim
visitors from around the world. It has been acknowledged as the No. 1 destination on the 2015
Global Muslim Travel Index. The key and unique strength of Malaysian success story on Halal
friendly destination is the commitment of Tourism Ministry as early as 2009 to identify the Muslim
market as a priority market. This also led to the creation of the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC). The
key in Malaysia’s success is that a government led commitment is required to activate the whole
industry to make Muslim travel as a priority market for the destination. This has led to it now
becoming the best destination for Muslim visitors in the world with all facilities, services aligning to
cater to this segment. However, being one of the top players in the Muslim travel market does not
come without any challenges. Malaysia has to plan very carefully and strategically to market itself
among the Muslim market and at the same time to overcome the sentiments and prejudice by the
non-Muslims towards the image Malaysia as an Islamic country. This is very important so that
Malaysian tourism industry will not only depend on Muslim travellers but also tourists from all
over the world.
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... Semua negara tersebut dikategorikan dalam empat kelompok, yaitu Grup A: pemimpin; Grup B: posisi terbaik dalam pertumbuhan; Grup C: potensi dalam pertumbuhan; dan Grup D: perlu berkembang. Malaysia, berdasarkan keempat kategori tersebut, diklasifikasikan sebagai bagian dari kelompok A (Yusof, Shariff, & Rahmli, 2016). ...
... Penghargaan dan pengakuan telah diberikan pada Malaysia untuk terus meningkatkan sektor pariwisata halal sehingga Kementerian Pariwisata Malaysia akhirnya mendirikan Islamic Tourism Center (ITC) pada 2009. Tujuannya untuk membantu pemerintah dalam melakukan penelitian dan pengembangan strategis serta menyediakan pelatihan dan layanan yang berkaitan dengan pariwisata halal (Yusof, Shariff, & Rahmli, 2016). ...
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Buku ini merupakan buku kedua dari riset yang kami lakukan dengan judul ”Tata Kelola Regional Sertifikasi Halal di Kawasan Asia Tenggara” yang dilaksanakan pada 2018-2019 atas pembiayaan dari Universitas Padjadjaran (Unpad) melalui program hibah internal Unpad dengan skema Riset Fundamental Unpad (RFU). Pembahasan buku kedua ini merupakan kelanjutan dari pembahasan pada buku pertama yang berjudul Isu Halal Internasional dan Regional. Jika pada buku pertama lebih menekankan pada tataran konseptual rezim halal global dan regional, pada buku yang kedua ini kami membahas tataran praktis tata kelola sertifikasi serta dinamika industri halal di Asia Tenggara. Asia Tenggara merupakan kawasan yang dinamis dengan kondisi masyarakat yang heterogen secara religi, menjadi salah satu kawasan di Asia yang menunjukkan hirauan dan penerimaan yang sangat baik terhadap isu serta praktik halal pada berbagai bidang. Dalam buku ini, kami hanya membahas dinamika industri halal dan tata kelola sertifikasi halal pada enam negara Asia Tenggara terpilih dengan kategorisasi demografi, yakni kelompok negara mayoritas muslim serta kelompok negara minoritas muslim. Tiga negara (Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, dan Malaysia) mewakili kelompok negara yang mayoritas penduduknya beragama Islam. Sementara itu, tiga negara lainnya (Singapura, Thailand, dan Filipina) mewakili kelompok negara yang minoritas muslim. Menariknya, dua negara di Asia Tenggara, Indonesia dan Malaysia, saling berkompetisi satu sama lain untuk menjadi halal hub dunia. Begitu pula dengan Thailand, walaupun jumlah penduduk muslimnya minoritas, negara ini memiliki hirauan yang serius terhadap isu halal, terutama dalam pengembangan pariwisata.
... The Muslim travel market is and will continue to be one of the biggest contributors to the world travel market. Malaysia, as a Muslim country, has been recognised as one of the main destinations for Muslim visitors from around the world (Yusof, Ramli, and Mohd. Shariff, 2016). The importance of understanding their travel choice and spending pattern is therefore undeniable. The main objective of this study is to explore the importance of Muslim friendly facilities as perceived by international Muslim tourists to Malaysia. This study has been conducted among international tourist who is visiting Malaysia, who ...
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