(eTN) – In an inclusive interview at the Malaysia stand during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, H.E. Dato Mohd Khalid Harun, President of the Asean Tourism Association (ASEANTA) and the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA), as well as Patron of the World Islamic Tourism Mart (WITM), confirmed that during WITM, held from June 6-9, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, the World Islamic Tourism Council will be announced and established.
In 2012, the World Islamic Tourism Mart and Malaysian International Tourism Exchange were organized separately by two organizations. This year I can see that you joined forces. Can you tell me more about this?
Yes, in fact both events have the same objective; having two events on the same date at two different venues was not beneficial to the travel and tourism industry of Malaysia. So Matta, my event WITM, the Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Malaysia, MYCeb, and the Islamic Tourism Center had decided to combine both these events which is now called WITM-MITE and will be held between June 6-9, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.
What was your idea and initiative behind organizing World Islamic Tourism Mart?
Muslim Tourism is a market segment that is fast growing not only in Malaysia but globally. Non-Muslim countries like Australia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, countries in Europe, are specifically catering to do this tourism segment, the Islamic tourism. There are close to 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide who are becoming more affluent and traveling with their families and friends. It used to be that Muslims travelled overseas for either Hajj and Umrah. Now they have learned to take time to travel. Now it’s easier to find Halal food in non-Muslim countries; hotels are also trying to meet Muslim travelers’ demands by showing the Qa’aba direction for prayer. My event, the world Islamic Tourism Mart, is the ideal platform for tourism industry sectors to take part, meet, network, and create new opportunities to increase the capture of the Muslim tourism market segment.
Will there be a conference during WITM-MITE?
WITM-MITE will be a leading conference – a tourism trade and consumers event during the conference. We will announce and create the establishment of the World Islamic Tourism Council; as you know, councils are spread in the world, but there is no council for Islamic tourism, and we will start this and will invite all countries around the world to join and became as founder members. We will also invite all travel and tourism industry agents, hotels, airlines, and related associations to join the council and get the benefit from networking with its members, which we believe will support over 1.7 billion tourists around the world.
WITM-MITE has already drawn interest from many countries. China for example will participate with 27 provinces. As you know, China has over 20 million Muslims; Japan also – they launched Muslim travel package, as well as tens of countries world wide in addition to European and Middle East countries.
Imams are coming also for Makkah and Madinah, and Al Azhar will join us in the event, in addition to speakers from different parts of the world.
Qatar Airways and Malaysian Airlines are sponsoring the flights, and they will offer special prices for delegates.
What about Malaysia and the preparation for Ramadan?
We in Malaysia have prepared everything for Muslim travelers to come and spend the Holy month of Ramadan here – Halal food, accommodation, mosques – the month is very special for us. We invite all Muslims around the world to spend the month of Ramadan here in Malaysia, and also the non-Muslims to experience how we spend the Holy month. Travelers can also travel from here to China, Japan, and all Asean countries which they prepared special packages for Muslims tourists.
Do you still have stands available for new exhibitors?
We welcome all countries around the world to come and exhibit at the World Islamic Travel Mart and Malaysia International Tourism Exchange WITM-MITE to invite Muslims and tourists from all over the world to visit them.
Welcome to Malaysia; welcome to WITM-MITE 2013.