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Refined Islamic tourism to spur economic recovery

Rokiah Mahmud

A stronger dose of Islamic values in the tourism and hospitality industry will pave the way forward for Brunei Darussalam, as part of the post-COVID-19 recovery programme.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong noted this during the opening of the International Seminar on Halal Tourism and Hospitality (ISHTaH) 2022 yesterday.

With 1.8 billion Muslims scattered across 50 countries around the world, the industry is viewed as a potential major market waiting to be tapped.

Islamic tourism has grown rapidly, even spreading its reach to non-Muslim countries such as Korea and Japan, said the minister at the seminar under the Brunei Mid-Year Conference and Exhibition (MCYE) 2022.

Based on studies surrounding Islamic tourism and hospitality, which employs the Halalan Thayyiban concept, the minister said, “There is no doubt it is closely related to the teachings of Islam (syari’at). Islamic tourism and hospitality is not strictly centred around matters pertaining to travel, cruises, vacation and the settlements of Muslims in various countries, but also relates to the adaptation of values and cultures. Commitment to syara’ requirements are among the top priorities.

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong delivers his speech.

“There is clear indication that strong Islamic values could serve as special characteristics of Islamic tourism in Brunei Darussalam, bringing extraordinary advantages to tourism products and services offered by the Sultanate,” he added.

To further strengthen the industry, the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) through the Tourism Development Department has conducted the ‘Islamic Values on Customer Service’ training for tourism industry frontliners, including those from restaurants, hotels and tour agencies.

The training allowed participants to explore the basics of customer services in accordance with Islamic principles, and strengthened knowledge on service delivery.

The MPRT carried out the MESRA campaign as an added measure, with MESRA denoting muhibbah (goodwill), etika (having good etiquettes), senyum (service with smile), ramah (friendly) and adil (always be fair).

According to the MasterCard Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI 2021), the Sultanate secured full marks in the service category (including the airport and prayer areas) as well as the environment category (trust and security). Brunei Darussalam also scored 72 in the access category (transport infrastructure), 67 in environment (climate) and 55 in communication (communication ability). Overall, the Sultanate ranked in sixth place in the service category, Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali pointed out.