The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan, was honoured to personally welcome the arrival of 35 esteemed imams from China on a special familiarisation trip to Malaysia.
This significant event took place today at KLIA 2 terminal, marking a crucial step towards enhancing cultural exchange and fostering mutual understanding between Malaysia and China.
The purpose of the imams' visit is to partake in a unique familiarisation trip, organised by the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) and Malaysian Inbound Chinese Association (MICA), to explore Malaysia's rich cultural heritage, historical landmarks, and vibrant traditions, along with its Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality offerings.
This initiative seeks to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between Malaysia and China while promoting the welcoming nature of Malaysia as a premier tourist destination for Muslim tourists.
During their stay, the imams will have the opportunity to visit Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Melaka, Seremban, Port Dickson, Shah Alam and Bentong, among others, and engage with local communities, experience Malaysia's renowned hospitality, and gain firsthand insights into the country's unique blend of cultures.
"I am delighted to welcome the distinguished delegation of imams to Malaysia.
"This visit not only provides them with an opportunity to explore our beautiful country but also allows us to showcase the warm hospitality and cultural diversity that define Malaysia, while also highlighting Malaysia as a Muslim-friendly environment," said Khairul Firdaus.
The Deputy Minister said: “The Ministry has been working closely with ITC and all tourism industry players to strengthen Malaysia’s Muslim-friendly ecosystem, leveraging on research-backed information, standards development, and training across all tourism sectors.”
Its intention is to position Malaysia as a regional umrah hub to boost the country’s tourism industry.
He said that Malaysia could provide pre or post Umrah packages for pilgrims to explore Malaysia, thereby potentially boosting the country's revenue and positioning Malaysia as a prominent global destination for Muslim travelers.
Other collaborations include the ITC-MICA initiative to tap into the China Muslim market. This marks a significant step towards establishing Malaysia as a premier destination for Muslim tourists in China which has an addressable market of 30 million Muslims.
It will not only enhance the tourism sector's economic contributions but also foster Malaysia-China cultural exchanges and understanding in light of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2024.
“MICA has been servicing the China tourist market with more than 30 years of experience.
"With their familiarity of the market and tourism preferences, it has eased our engagements with the Muslim community there and facilitated our efforts to introduce Malaysia’s vibrant culture, celebrations, Halal food, and more,” said ITC Director-General, Nizran Noordin.
Over the past four months, ITC has delivered various training and insights to MICA in efforts to realise the goal of enhancing Malaysia's appeal to Muslim travelers from China.
Some of the key initiatives include:
* Awareness Seminar on Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH):
A comprehensive seminar was held in Kuala Lumpur, bringing together local tourism industry players to raise awareness about the nuances and requirements of Muslim-Friendly Tourism. MICA actively attended to gain a better understanding about Halal requirements and Muslim travellers’ faith-based needs.
* MFTH Competency Training for Travel Agents:
In line with the commitment to excellence in service, ITC together with Tourism Malaysia, organised specialised competency training sessions for travel agents members under MICA in Kuala Lumpur. The outcome of the training included the development of specific Muslim-Friendly travel packages for the China Muslim market that were ready to be marketed.
* Launch of "Malaysia Malay Cultural Tour Packages" at China International Travel Mart:
During the prestigious China International Travel Mart in Kunming, China, ITC and MICA unveiled the "Malaysia Malay Cultural Tour Packages”, a series of 24 exclusive packages that showcased the lifestyle, attractions and celebrations of Muslim-Friendly Malaysia. These thoughtfully curated packages highlighted the rich cultural heritage of Malaysia, ensuring an immersive and enjoyable experience for Muslim travelers.
* Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guide (MFTG) Training:
ITC organised a specialised training programme for tourist guides under MICA in Kuala Lumpur. The Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guide (MFTG) Training aimed to enhance the knowledge and skills of guides, ensuring they are well-equipped to provide an enriching experience for Muslim tourists.
* China Imam Fam Trip: Discover Muslim-Friendly Malaysia:
In a unique and culturally enriching initiative, ITC and MICA will be hosting 36 imams from 14 provinces in China in the China Imam Fam Trip from 10-16 January 2024. This programme aims to familiarise the Imams with the Muslim-friendly offerings of Malaysia, allowing them to experience first-hand the country's hospitality and cultural diversity, and share their experience with their respective Muslim communities back home.
* Launch of “Ramadan Experience” packages:
ITC and Tourism Malaysia have collaborated with tourism industry players to introduce special holiday packages that highlight Malaysia's vibrancy during Ramadan. To be launched on 15 Jan, these packages provide information on Ramadhan bazaars, mosque activities, hotel packages, and various activities during the fasting month, offering a culturally immersive experience for travelers.
As Malaysia gears up for a promising tourism recovery in 2024, MOTAC expresses its commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity in its offerings, making Malaysia an inviting and accommodating destination for visitors from around the world. - KitaReporters/Media Release