JAKARTA - Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation of the world with 90% of its 245 million inhabitants declaring to be Muslim. It then only makes sense that Indonesia and its capital Jakarta welcomes the first international forum of Islamic Tourism of the Organization of the Islmaic Cooperation (OIC). The event will take place on June 2 and 3. "This is concrete action from the tourism ministers of OIC members meeting in Banjul, Gambia, on Dec. 6, 2013, as we want to further develop sharia tourism in OIC countries," Tourism and Creative Economy Deputy Minister Sapta Nirwandar said in Jakarta on Monday as quoted by Antara news agency.
Sapta said sharia tourism was projected to continue to grow as Muslim populations were predicted to reach 2.2 billion - equal to 26.4 percent of the global population - by the end of 2030.
Sharia tourism –also named sometimes “halal tourism” include specific facilities and services. For example, hotels following sharia rules do not serve alcohol and have separate swimming pools and spa facilities for men and women. Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey for example are now trying to attract Muslim tourists from all over the world by offering such facilities. Other countries such as Singapore, Thailand but also Hong Kong, Japan and Australia are looking at attracting more Muslim travellers thanks to sharia related tourism programs.
The Muslim population stood at 1.6 billion of a global population of 6.9 billion in 2012. "Through this forum, we want to strengthen sharia tourism’s position as one of keys to help support the global economy. We also want to promote sharia tourism destinations and products such as hotels, restaurants and spas," he said.
According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2012 research conducted by Thomson Reuters, Muslims spent US$1.088 billion on halal food, equal to 16.6 percent of worldwide food spending. The figure is projected to increase to $1.626 billion in 2018.
Meanwhile, in the tour and travel sector, Muslims around the world spent $137 billion on travel, excluding haj and minor haj, throughout 2012, or 12.5 percent of travel spending across the globe. This figure is predicted to rise to $181 billion by the end of 2018.
Director General of Multilateral Affairs at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hasan Kleib, fully supported the forum and stated that the forum will be able to promote global Shariah tourism.
A historical move was taken in 2012 by the government when the Ministry of Tourism and creative economy signed a Memorandum of understanding with Indonesia's Ulema Council on a program that is steered towards making sharia tourism a success. The Ministry estimates that some 20% of travellers coming from Muslim countries would be interested to follow sharia rules when taking a vacation in Indonesia.
(Source: ANTARA news)