Leading hotels in Malaysia, such as Sunway and the Hilton brands, are adjusting their service offerings to cater to the Muslim tourist market, which they believe holds much promise for tourism recovery post-COVID-19.
In fact, 44 hotels in the country have participated in the Muslim-Friendly Accommodation Recognition (MFAR) initiative of the Islamic Tourism Centre, reported The News Straits Times (NST).
The initiative promotes resorts and hotels that meet the faith-based needs of Muslim tourists.
Among the first to join the MFAR programme last year was Sunway Hotels & Resorts, which is one of the leading international hotel groups in Asia and developer of premium hotels owned by Sunway Group.
Three of its hotels in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur –Sunway Pyramid Hotel, Sunway Clio Hotel and Sunway Resort – have received Muslim-friendly recognition.
Alex Castaldi, Sunway City Kuala Lumpur’s Senior General Manager of Hotels, described Muslim-friendly tourism as a growing market segment that is worth tapping into.
“Given the huge potential of this sector, it’s important for the hospitality industry to adapt to the halal requirements to meet the needs of Muslim tourists. A destination is then seen as increasingly attractive for Muslim travellers when such facilities and services are in place,” he said as quoted by NST.
“By having this MFAR recognition by ITC, it gives the hotel an extra edge from the rest and will directly drive more arrivals to the hotel.”
In February, Middle East tourists accounted for 25% of the group’s total hotel business across its three MFAR properties.
Five-star hotel Pullman Kuching also secured ITC’s MFAR certification in 2020.
The recognition helped strengthen the hotel’s branding and marketing efforts, said Ishak Ibrahim, Cluster General Manager for Pullman Kuching and Pullman Miri Waterfront.
“Though we already had all the basic services and facilities in place to meet the needs of our Muslim guests, we pursued the certification anyway so that we could use it to attract more Muslim tourists to stay with us and use our services. It makes a great marketing tool for us,” he said as quoted by NST.
Another hotel to have joined the bandwagon is international hotel brand DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur (DTHKL), which is managed by Hilton Worldwide.
“There are many reasons that guided us in arriving at our decision to obtain the MFAR certificate,” said DTHKL Commercial Director Bishoui Khamis as quoted by NST.
“We realise the potential of the Muslim travel market, and the certification is one of many steps taken to cater to this market and ensuring our Muslim guests a peace of mind while staying with us.”
With the provision of higher level of services and offerings, Khamis is optimistic that the number of Muslim tourist will increase.