Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) provided the Muslim-friendly tour guide (MFTG) training for the tourist guide to incorporate Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH) and tap into the Muslim travel market. Picture: Muslim tourists in Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia.
PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA, 15 SEPTEMBER 2021: At the “Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality Forum: Potentials and Perspectives” online forum organised by Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) on 9 September, one of the lineup of speakers, Ms. Jane Rai, who has been in the tourism industry for over three decades, shared her experience of becoming a Muslim-friendly tourist guide.
Recounting her experience of taking the Muslim-Friendly Tour Guide (MFTG) course organised by ITC, she said she felt confident and assured of ITC’s knowledge and expertise in leading the development of Islamic Tourism, which led to her decision to attend the training.
ITC Director-General, Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan, said that the Muslim-Friendly Tour Guide course was developed as part of the organisation’s focus on capacity building in the tourism industry.
“I believe in the brand trust and positioning that Islamic Tourism Centre adopted. Its mission to position Malaysia as a global hub for Islamic Tourism and Hospitality of international standards and quality also resonated with me. It just proved to me that ITC had big ambitions to drive the industry, and that the growth potential of the market was there.”
This award-winning tour guide and certified Muslim-friendly Tour Guide (MFTG) by ITC, said: “I had an amazing reflection in joining the Muslim-friendly tour guide training organised by Islamic Tourism Centre. It allowed me to get better insights into what Muslim travelers need, and I began to understand the expectation of Muslim travelers while traveling.”
Ms. Jane said the training enabled her to expand her guiding services to a wider market. “As the worldwide Muslim population expands, so does the potential for Muslim-friendly hospitality services. It is poised to become a significant business, as travel-savvy Muslims look for Shariah-compliant cuisine and facilities when planning their trips. This undoubtedly will be a much more diverse market to tap into especially for the tourist guides.”
Ms. Jane Rai, award-winning tour guide and ITC-certified Muslim-friendly Tour Guide (MFTG).
The Muslim-friendly Tour Guide (MFTG) training programme was initiated by ITC in 2017. The MFTG certification is rooted in the Malaysian Standard MS2610, the standard which provides guidelines for managing tourism facilities, products, and services to meet the needs of Muslim travelers. It also allows tour guides to understand the Muslim tourists at a deeper level.
ITC Director-General, Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip Haji Hasan, said that the course was developed as part of the organisation’s focus on capacity building in the tourism industry: “This is in line with Islamic Tourism Centre’s mission as an organisation under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia to undertake the task as an internationally-recognised centre of excellence and point of reference in Islamic Tourism and Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality. Therefore, through the MFTG training programme, ITC plays a part in enhancing the skills of industry players while enriching the Islamic Tourism experience.”
The MFTG training programme addresses a wide range of topics, including the concept of Islamic tourism and its elements, basic Islamic principles, and the requirements of Muslim travelers. This indeed aids tourist guides in dealing with this specialised tourist market and providing Shariah-compliant Muslim-friendly tourism services.
He continued: “During the MFTG training by Islamic Tourism Centre, we shared the most important components of Islamic Tourism such as Halal hotel compliance, Halal food, Halal packaging, Halal transportation, and Halal finance. This in fact would help tourist guides to deliver proper requirements for Muslim travelers.”
Recognising the importance of crisis management, ITC conducted a refresher course for MFTGs in aspects of health and safety, particularly basic life support (BLS) skills to equip them with the additional hands-on skills to handle such crises. This was in line with ITC’s focus on increasing the quality of MFTGs, as well as providing unique learning opportunities through the training.
Dato’ Dr. Mohmed Razip also highlighted the improvements that ITC plans for improving the MFTG course by taking into account the current landscape of the industry especially after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Future trainings will provide more focus on the introduction to Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH), understanding of different types of Muslim travellers, and the basic principles of Halal and MFTH products and services in Malaysia. By getting more tour guides on board this training programme, ITC hopes to create a more sustainable and inclusive tourism industry, which aligns with the aspirations of the National Tourism Policy (NTP) 2021-2030.
This online forum by ITC was organised in conjunction with the 17th Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS), on 9 September, to engage with core business organisations and decision-making entities out there who take an interest in the Halal economy, particularly Islamic Tourism and Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality (MFTH), especially through the Muslim-friendly tour guide (MFTG) training.
Officiated by Chairman of ITC, Datuk Wira Dr. Noor Zari Hamat, who is also the Secretary-General of Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), the forum saw other presenters including Mr. Zakaria Ismail, Hotel Manager of Perdana Kuala Lumpur City Centre; Ms. Liz Othman, Founder of Teratak Spa; and Mr. Mohd Daud Mohd Arif, CEO of Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC).
The forum is part of ITC’s core activities in leading the development of Islamic Tourism in Malaysia, besides offering research and market intelligence, training, industry development consultation, Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality (MFTH) services standards and certification, and information exchange.
To watch a recording of the forum, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABu90z-AjIM&t=6899s
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Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) is an entity under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia tasked to develop the Islamic tourism segment for Malaysia. It advocates for Muslim-friendly tourism (MFT) by offering research and market intelligence, training, industry development consultation, Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality (MFTH) services standards and certification, and information exchange.
In 2021, ITC was named the recipient of the Strategic Business Alliance Award at The BrandLaureate World Halal Best Brand E-Branding Awards 2021. It is a recognition of ITC’s efforts and endeavours in formulating new strategies to meet the new normal of the business environment to ensure business continuity and sustainability, notwithstanding its role to develop and grow the Islamic tourism segment in Malaysia.
In addition, Malaysia was named top country in the region in the MFT sector by the State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report 2020/21. Malaysia also retained the top-ranked destination in the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2021, a position it has defended since the launch of the Index in 2015.
These recognitions are an added motivation for ITC to continue to strengthen its efforts in being a prime mover and leading institution to ensure Malaysia is at the forefront of MFTH.
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