Hopes ride high on developing Muslim-friendly tourism in Indonesia

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, with a total of around 231 million people, according to data of the 2021 World Population Review.

Hence, vast potential exists in developing halal tourism in Indonesia. Endowed with natural beauty that is able to enthrall every visiting tourist, this sector is indubitably projected to significantly contribute to the national economy.

Moreover, Indonesia has one of the largest worship places in Southeast Asia — the Istiqlal Mosque located in Central Jakarta — which often becomes the center of Indonesian Muslim worship during the Islamic holidays.

Several iconic mosques in other regions, include the Taqwa Muhammadiyah Mosque in Padang, West Sumatra; Golden Dome Mosque in Depok, West Java; Baiturrahman Mosque in Aceh; and the 99 Asmaulhusna Dome Mosque in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

Moreover, some mosques, including the Great Demak Mosque, Central Java; the Menara Kudus Mosque, Central Java; the Great Mosque of Banten, Banten; and the Sultan of Ternate Mosque, North Maluku, become the legacy of the history of spread of Islam as well as Islamic empires in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, the Great Al Jabbar Mosque in Bandung, West Java, which was inaugurated in December 2022, is famous for its unique design.

Furthermore, Indonesia managed to rank second after Malaysia as a popular halal tourism destination, according to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2022.

Possessing abundant cultural treasures and rich Islamic history and heritage, this year, the government is certainly keen to not miss out on the opportunity to expedite the development of Muslim-friendly tourism in Indonesia.

Moreover, the lifting of Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM) at the end of 2022 had opened opportunities for tourism and creative economy sectors to recover, as growth of the sectors was hindered due to limited public mobility.

Government’s attempts

This year, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry will focus on developing Muslim-friendly tourism, especially mosque-based halal tourism.

Halal tourism is encouraged through several attempts that can both spur national economic growth and promote inclusive special interest tourism, for instance, by launching an e-booklet titled “Explore Indonesia’s Mosques During Eid Holiday #TravelinIndonesia” ahead of the Eid al-Fitr 1444 Hijri holiday.

The government had scheduled a joint leave period for the Islamic holy day on April 19-25, 2023, as Eid al-Fitr is estimated to fall on April 22, 2023. The ministry expects tourist mobility during the holiday period to reach between 125 million and 130 million.

The e-booklet, which is part of the “Proud to Travel in Indonesia” campaign, provides information about 27 unique mosques that also have tourism potentials along several popular homecoming routes.

They include the Trans-Sumatra route, Trans-Java route, Northern Coast of Java route, and Southern Coast of Java route.

Later, the ministry will develop the e-booklet, launched on March 27, 2023, into an e-catalogue that contains information on 230 mosques in 13 provinces across Indonesia.

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry expects the mosques to not only draw domestic tourists but also foreign travellers.

Thus, the ministry seeks to increase the readiness of those halal tourism destinations, including the preparedness of halal culinary and accommodation services around the mosques.

The attempt aims to offer the finest level of comfort and hospitality to both domestic and foreign Muslim tourists during their stay.

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry expects to draw 1.4 billion domestic tourists to visit in 2023, which is targeted to contribute above four percent to the gross domestic product (GDP).

In addition, the ministry targets 7.4 million visits of foreign tourists this year. It also aims to open new jobs for 4.4 million people by 2024.

Furthermore, the government seeks to improve Indonesia’s score in the 2023 Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) to reach 75 points.

Hence, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry strives to build an Islamic economic ecosystem through training, mentoring, marketing, and financing programs that prioritizes the implementation of sharia principles.

The ministry has established a small team comprising various stakeholders to further develop mosque-based special interest tourism in Indonesia.

The Muslim-friendly tourism program is not only developed at various Islamic worship places but also at one of the Buddhist heritage tourism destinations in Indonesia: the Borobudur Temple, located in Magelang District, Central Java Province.

State-run tourism companies — PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan, and Ratu Boko (TWC) — support this Muslim-friendly tourism by providing several facilities for Muslim tourists at the temple.

This Buddhist tourism destination, which also promotes the concept of global tourism, has built several prayer rooms for Muslim visitors.

Various halal food and beverages are also sold around the super priority tourism destination (DSP). Although it cannot be completely regarded as a halal tourism destination, the services provided at the temple are ensured to be Muslim-friendly.

Moreover, several local governments are starting to pay heed to the potential of halal tourism to strengthen economic growth in their respective regions.

Several provinces, such as West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), West Java, Riau Islands, West Sumatra, and Aceh, have expressed interest in developing halal tourism and have started to build it.

Regional heads have begun eyeing opportunities to bring in more domestic, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern visitors that are expected to boost the number of tourist visits in Indonesia.

Hopefully, through hard work and sincere prayers, the government and related stakeholders’ noble attempts to boost the welfare of people in various tourism areas can be implemented successfully. 

Related news: Indonesia’s steps to become world’s halal center
Related news: Ministry to showcase Indonesia’s halal products at G20 Summit


By Sinta Ambarwati, Uyu Liman
Editor: Rahmad Nasution

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