Lombok, Indonesia – Is This The Next Up And Coming Tourist Hot Spot For Muslims?
Lombok, the self-styled “island of 1,000 mosques”, authorities in Lombok, Indonesia are planning to build a large Islamic Centre which will contain a mosque, study centre and hotel with specially trained tour guides promoting Indonesia as a “Muslim friendly destination” will point Muslim visitors in the direction of the nearest mosque at prayer times.
This is a good move by the Indonesian Government, they have spotted the growing trend of citizens from wealthier Middle Eastern countries seeking Islamic, Sharia based tourism, “The economic growth of Middle Eastern countries is very good and we see an opportunity there,” senior tourism ministry official Rizki Handayani told AFP.
About 190,000 Middle Eastern visitors came to Indonesia in 2013, according to official figures, this number is no where as high as neighbouring countries such a Thailand and Malaysia. Foreign visitor arrivals to Indonesia rose to 8.8m in 2013, according to official figures, compared with 25.72m in Malaysia and 26.55m in Thailand. There is much to be done if Indonesia wish to push to the top alongside other world renowned holiday hotspots in the region.
Implementation Of Islamic Tourism In Indonesia
Muslim-oriented business group CrescentRating, predicted the sector would be worth $192bn a year globally by 2020, up from $140bn in 2013, this is a huge increase to aspire to and steps are already in progress to make this an easy reality.
Riyanto Sofyan who owns a chain of 9 sharia hotels across Indonesia, including two in Jakarta. They serve alcohol-free cocktails, the call to prayer is announced 5 times per day. Hotels in Lombok are also promoting themselves as Islamic, with 9 thus far having gained coveted Sharia certification, this is a strong move forward in the right direction for Indonesia to achieve the goal of enticing new tourists of the Muslim faith to visit, spend and help develop the tourism industry. The system of stars for conventional hotels will be creatively replaced by the crescent moon rating, a symbol associated with Islam, with the best receiving 3 crescents. For a hotel to gain its first crescent moon rating it must have signs pointing towards Mecca and copies of the Quran in its rooms, as well as a kitchen where halal food can be prepared.
Diversification is good move within the tourist industry especially when the industry is approaching a saturation point. The demand will definitely create the supply.
But What About Western Tourists?
I have read that some Western tourists are angered by the proposed development of creating an Islamic utopian tourist destination catered to Muslims, authorities are considering clearly demarcating areas more suited to Muslim guests, where Western tourists should cover up. What I fail to understand is that Indonesia being a huge Islamic country with 87% of its citizens followers of the Islamic faith how could Western tourists oppose of such developments and ideals? If the idea of a Muslim friendly holiday destination doesn’t appeal to you, then don’t go, it really is that simple. There are various destinations catered to all differing types of people in the world that one could visit. When anyone goes to a Muslim country they should respect that fact and not impose their own values and not annoy the population.
With that said I sincerely wish Indonesia and its citizens all the success in creating their own wonderful niche in the tourism industry and believe they will do a fantastic job.
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