The notion of halal tourism, which is starting to attract people’s attention, has been overshadowed by misinformation, miscommunication and also misinterpretation and is often embellished with political contestations which ultimately have a negative impact. This was stated by the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Salahudin Uno in a discussion forum discussing the book “Sharia Tourism Law in ASEAN,” which was written by an international business law expert, Dr. Reza Zaki, Wednesday (7/7).
According to Sandi, halal tourism is more about providing additional services that better serve the needs of Muslim tourists.
“So it’s not zoning. Not a location, not a developed area, but is extension of services. It is the development of the services that are needed to exist,” said Sandi.
Sandi quotes some of the concepts of Muslim friendly tourism based on Muslim Traveler Faith Based Service Needs 2.0. According to him, the basic things that need to be provided in Muslim-friendly tourism are halal food, places of worship, adequate ablution and toilet facilities, and do not have Islamophobia. That’s all, the basic requirements that a Muslim-friendly destination must have.
Other facilities that add value, for example, are the provision of menu services in the month of Ramadan and the experience of traveling in the local Muslim community. Meanwhile, in the third group, what is good if it is available but if it doesn’t have an impact, it is recreational facilities that provide privacy.
Sandi said, Indonesia should welcome this trend of Muslim-friendly tourism. Its growth, both in ASEAN and globally is very promising.
“If we look at 2026, there will be 230 million travelers, with spending of 180 billion dollars. This is just a calculation using digital, not to mention calculating the subsequent impacts that exist in each destination,” said Sandi.
Indonesia in the Fourth Position of World Halal Tourism
Indonesia’s current position on the Global Islamic Economic indicator, said Sandi, is in fourth position. The three countries listed above are Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the number of Muslim foreign tourist arrivals, at the regional level in 2018 Indonesia was still inferior to Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
“In fact, we are a country with an extraordinary variety of destinations. This is an opportunity for us to develop,” he added.
There are at least ten Muslim-friendly tourism destinations in Indonesia. Among them is Lombok, NTB which became the winner at the world level. Then there are West Sumatra, Aceh, Riau Islands and Riau. Other strong candidates are Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, South Sulawesi and East Java.
Halal Tourism is Increasingly Popular in ASEAN
The author of the ASEAN Sharia Tourism Law, Dr. Reza Zaki, said that the trend of halal or sharia tourism began with the World Tourism Organization conference in Cordoba, Spain in 1967. This conference is said to have inspired the development of religion-based tourism.
“This is not a question of whether he is Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and so on. But speaking in the context of local wisdom. If we look at tourism, its transformation is about selling experiences, and tourists are looking for that,” said Reza.
Countries in the Middle East clearly have potential, as well as the ASEAN region, said Reza. Unfortunately, ASEAN itself does not have a legal basis for sharia tourism, as well as Indonesia which has not been able to draft a Sharia Tourism Law.
In fact, popular halal tourist destinations in ASEAN, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam, can learn from Thailand.
“In fact, with a Muslim population of only five percent, with 3,600 mosques, Thailand is quite promising. Even the growth of halal tourism is quite rapid. Indonesia and Malaysia have serious competitors at the ASEAN level,” said Reza.
The country has developed a special application Muslim Friendly Tourism to help tourists visit. Thailand is also serious about halal certification and developing halal applications check-in Thailand, which is integrated with hotels, restaurants and other services.
Reza believes that ASEAN needs to regionally develop regulations related to halal tourism. Meanwhile, Indonesia, which has stagnated in discussing the Halal Tourism Law, must move forward. The law is important as a parent regulation for regions that want to develop halal tourism. Of course, every region that develops this tourism trend must consider local wisdom, so that its presence will actually provide added value, not a new problem.
“Indonesia, as the world’s largest Muslim population, should not happen capital flight. Tourists go to various countries, when in fact they can spend the money in their own country,” he added.
Reza underlined that halal tourism is not limited to only Muslims. In Japan, he said, there are even karaoke places that also provide prayer rooms. The strategy is to attract the Muslim market and take advantage of the halal tourism trend.
“Then where is Indonesia’s contribution and role, when all the resources are here? We then lose the innovation to capture this potential,” said Reza. [ns/em]