Halal tourism sees growing interest
Halal tourism event sees major increase in participants More tourist locations, service providers in NTB complying with sharia law to serve halal tourism industry
Hundreds of international buyers and sellers participated in the International Halal Travel Fair (IHTF) 2017 in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) on Friday, demonstrating the promising future of Indonesia’s halal tourism industry, especially in the province.
The event was held at the NTB Islamic Center and was organized by the NTB Tourism Agency in collaboration with the Indonesian Association of Tourism Professionals (ASPPI) NTB.
“We have seen a significant increase, especially on the buyers side. There are 260 buyers from 18 countries this year, as opposed to 90 last year,” Tourism Agency head Lalu Mohammad Faozal said at the venue.
The buyers were mostly travel agents from Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, India, Saudi Arabia and some other Middle Eastern nations, he said.
IHTF was established as an annual NTB event in 2016. It aims to promote and market Muslimfriendly tourist destinations in NTB.
Since 2016, NTB, West Sumatra and Aceh, have been named as centers of halal tourism by the Tourism Ministry.
NTB had seen a major increase in arrivals of tourists from Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and Middle Eastern nations since then, Faozal said.
“The 2016 IHTF recorded a total transaction value of Rp 3 billion [US$230,000]. We aim to increase that figure to between Rp 7.5 billion and Rp 10 billion,” he said.
Halal tourism is designed to attract Muslims who abide by the rules of Islam. The hotels, for example, do not serve alcoholic or pork products and have separate swimming pools and spa facilities for men and women.
In NTB, halal tourism has been regulated under NTB provincial bylaw No. 2/2016 on NTB halal tourism.
Under the regulation, tourism service providers and tourist destinations in the province that are categorized as halal tourism are required to provide facilities, products, services and management that abide by sharia law.
However, Faozal said, halal tourism in NTB did not only focus on religious aspects, but also on comfort. Everyone was welcome to enjoy halal tourism in the province regardless of his or her religion, he said.
Hotels, restaurants, food products and other tourism service providers in NTB have also been halal-certified by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).
More than 600 traditional food products from NTB, for instance, have been certified as halal by the MUI, Faozal said.
Despite NTB being one of the country’s top halal tourism destinations, conventional tourist spots in the province have been retained.
Popular destinations such as Gili Trawangan, Air and Meno, for example, are not categorized under the halal tourism category although Islamic worship places are available. In these places, alcoholic drinks are available.
Mubarok Muslim Tour and Travel Director Inne Hilfiana said NTB, especially Lombok, had grown increasingly popular as a halal tourist destination for Middle Eastern tourists.
“In the past, tourists from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations opted to visit places such as Bandung or Bogor [in West Java]. In the last two years, however, visitor numbers to Lombok have seen a significant jump,” she said.
Arista Indonesia Aviation Center (AIAC) CEO Arista Atmadjati said Lombok and Sumbawa should continue branding themselves as halal tourism icons.
“Lombok has scenic beaches and beautiful cultures. But many aspects still need to be improved, including accessibility,” she said.
Arista suggested that the Lombok International Airport needed to offer more direct international flights. At the moment, regular international flights to the airport arrive from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore only.