Jakarta (ANTARA) – Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, with a total of about 231 million people, according to the World Population Survey 2021.
Therefore, there is a huge potential in the development of halal tourism in Indonesia. Endowed with natural beauty that is capable of enthralling every visiting tourist, this sector is undoubtedly expected to contribute significantly to the national economy.
In addition, Indonesia has one of the largest places of worship in Southeast Asia – the Istiklal Mosque located in Central Jakarta – which often becomes the center of Indonesian Muslim pilgrimage during Islamic holidays.
A few 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.
In addition, some mosques including Demak Grand Mosque, Central Java; Menara Kudus Mosque, Central Java; Banten Grand Mosque, Banten; and the Sultan Mosque of Ternate, North Maluku, become a legacy of the history of the spread of Islam as well as Islamic empires in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the Al Jabbar Grand Mosque in Bandung, West Java, which was inaugurated in December 2022, is known for its unique design.
In addition, Indonesia managed to rank second only to Malaysia as a popular destination for halal tourism, according to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2022.
Possessing an abundance of cultural treasures and a rich Islamic history and heritage, this year the government is certainly keen not to miss the opportunity to accelerate the development of Muslim tourism in Indonesia.
In addition, the lifting of Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM) at the end of 2022 has opened up opportunities for the recovery of the tourism and creative economy sectors, as the growth of the sectors was hampered by limited public mobility.
The attempts of the government
This year, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy will focus on the development of Muslim-oriented tourism, especially mosque-based halal tourism.
Halal tourism is promoted through several experiences that can both boost national economic growth and promote inclusive special interest tourism, for example by launching an e-brochure titled “Explore Indonesia’s Mosques during Eid #TravelinIndonesia” before Eid al-Fitr 1444 Hijra holiday.
The government has planned a joint holiday period for the Islamic holy day on April 19-25, 2023, as Eid al-Fitr is expected to fall on April 22, 2023. The ministry expects tourism mobility during the festive period to reach between 125 million and 130 mln.
The e-brochure, which is part of the Pride to Travel Indonesia campaign, provides information on 27 unique mosques that also have tourism potential along several popular routes back home.
These include the Trans-Sumatra Route, the Trans-Java Route, the North Java Coast Route and the South Java Coast Route.
The ministry will later develop the e-booklet, released on March 27, 2023, into an electronic catalog that contains information on 230 mosques in 13 provinces in Indonesia.
The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy expects the mosques to attract not only domestic tourists but also foreign travelers.
Thus, the ministry seeks to increase the readiness of these destinations for halal tourism, including the readiness of halal culinary services and accommodation services around the mosques.
The aim is to offer the best level of comfort and hospitality to both local and foreign Muslim tourists during their stay.
The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy expects to attract 1.4 billion domestic tourists to visit in 2023, which aims to contribute over four percent to gross domestic product (GDP).
In addition, the ministry is targeting 7.4 million foreign tourist visits this year. It also aims to create new jobs for 4.4 million people by 2024.
In addition, the government aims to improve Indonesia’s 2023 Global Muslim Tourism Index (GMTI) score to reach 75 points.
Therefore, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy seeks to build an Islamic economic ecosystem through training, mentoring, marketing and funding programs that prioritize the implementation of Shariah principles.
The ministry has established a small team involving various stakeholders to further develop mosque-based special interest tourism in Indonesia.
The Muslim-oriented tourism program is not only developed in various Islamic places of worship, but also in one of the Buddhist heritage destinations in Indonesia: Borobudur Temple, located in Magelang District, Central Java Province.
State-owned 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 tourist 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 Tourist Destination (DSP). Although it cannot be fully considered as a halal tourism destination, the services provided at the temple are guaranteed to be convenient for Muslims.
In addition, several local governments are beginning to pay attention 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 the development of halal tourism and started building it.
Regional leaders have begun to look at opportunities to attract more domestic visitors, visitors from Southeast Asia and the Middle East, who are expected to increase the number of tourist visits to Indonesia.
Let us hope that through hard work and sincere prayers, the noble attempts of the government and its related stakeholders to enhance the welfare of the people in various tourism areas can be implemented successfully.
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