Indonesia’s Efforts To Promote Muslim-Friendly Tourism Rewarded With Third Place Ranking

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Indonesia ranks third in the 2017 Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) which was launched in Jakarta on May 3rd. This year’s improved ranking is a culmination of Indonesia’s efforts to promote family-friendly and Muslim-friendly tourism, which includes enhancing Muslim-friendly offerings, launching a global Halal travel alliance, plans to introduce an Indonesia Halal app, and beyond.

Indonesia Ranks Third In Newly-Released 2017 Global Muslim Travel Index

In his speech during the launch of the MasterCard-CrescentRating GMTI 2017 ranking, Indonesia’s Tourism Minister, Mr. Arief Yahya said, “In 2015 we had ranked 6th, in 2016, we ranked 4th. Now we are number 3, for which I congratulate Indonesia.”

Enhancing family-friendly and Muslim-friendly offerings:
To increase inbound Muslim tourists, Indonesia is encouraging local tourism industry players to obtain Halal certification, provide prayer facilities, and offer gender segregated recreational activities.

To motivate the industry, Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism ran nationwide competitions for Muslim-friendly hotels, products, and service providers.

Overall, these initiatives resulted in increased awareness within the industry with regards to the Muslim market segment as well as strengthening Indonesia’s family-friendly destination positioning.

The initiatives conducted by the Indonesian Tourism Ministry have proved to be wildly successful. In just three years, their efforts have resulted in a large growth of Muslim tourists; between 2015 and 2016 there was a 32 percent increase in tourist arrivals from the Middle East, with the number of tourists reaching 2.5 million in 2016. This achievement is even more notable as Muslim tourists make up 20 percent of tourists to the country.

It is to be noted that global Muslim spend on outbound travel was $151 billion in 2015 according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2016-2017 developed by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with DinarStandard. This represents 11.2% of global expenditure, and puts it close to the size of the Chinese travel market.

Focusing on Indonesia’s natural tourism appeal:
From Indonesia’s breathtaking natural wonders to its city life and shopping attractions, its culinary delights, cultural wonders, heritage sights, and its adventures and sports events, there are a multitude of selling points to promote the country as a welcoming destination for every type of tourist. The Muslim-friendly facilities and services are provided to make Muslim visitors feel comfortable and address their basic needs, while they fully enjoy everything that Indonesia has to offer.

Global Halal Travel Alliance:
The Global Halal Travel Alliance (HTA) is a digital B2B platform that facilitates cross-selling among those in the industry that cater to Muslim needs and is also a “co-opetition” platform - a platform for both cooperation and competition.

The strategic plan for this alliance was solidified in a meeting hosted by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism on the sidelines of The Malaysian International Halal Showcase (MIHAS), to which top performing travel agents/tour operators and other Halal tourism industry players from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines were invited.

“This is a monumental step as this Alliance will increase intra-ASEAN tourism flow. In particular, it will help increase Muslim tourism to Indonesia,” stated Mr. Riyanto Sofyan, Chairman of Halal Tourism Acceleration and Development Team. “The Alliance aligns with the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism’s strategy to encourage industry-led, government supported programs to achieve this year’s target of 3.1 million foreign Muslim tourists to Indonesia, and will contribute towards the target of 15 million foreign tourists to Indonesia in 2017.”

Indonesian Muslim-friendly app:
The Indonesian Ministry of Tourism is currently testing a beta version of an Indonesia Muslim-Friendly app. The app, developed by Telkom Indonesia, intends to highlight Indonesia as one of the main destinations for international tourists, specifically from Muslim majority countries.

App users can effortlessly search for Halal restaurants, Muslim-friendly hotels, mosques, prayer schedules, as well as the qiblah direction in real time. With thousands of points of interest comprised from a wide variety of cities in Indonesia, this mobile app allows both Indonesian and international Muslim travelers to easily discover destinations, accommodations, and restaurants that are Halal certified by the Indonesian Council of Ulema.

The mobile application and the Global Halal Travel Alliance are part of the Ministry of Indonesia’s Go Digital program, which aims to promote tourism in Indonesia through digital platforms. The first effort in this program was the creation of Indonesia Tourism Exchange (ITX) in 2016, which is a digital marketplace where buyers meet sellers.

“With the Indonesia Muslim Friendly application, Muslim travelers don't have to worry when they plan to travel to Indonesia,” continued Mr. Sofyan. “All aspects of Halal tourism are covered in the application and can be accessed quickly and conveniently. In the country with largest Muslim population in the world, it is safe to say that Indonesia's tourism ecosystem is Halal tourism.”

Indonesia announced its new initiatives to promote Muslim-friendly tourism during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, in which Indonesia was well represented.

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Reem El-Shafaki
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