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Treating Muslim Tourists with Respect

Muslim-friendly tourism is currently growing in non-Muslim countries. It is an attempt to make the tourism experience enjoyable to Muslim travelers and allowing them to perform religious duties. The competition among non-Muslim destinations to attract Muslim travelers is also increased. Therefore, tourism suppliers (i.e. travel agents, tour operators, accommodations) in non-Muslim countries should educate local staff to treat Muslim tourists with respect. Although not all Muslims (60%) practicing Islam correctly, but it is recommended to have well trained staff to satisfy Muslims travelers. Human capital in non-Muslim country is a critical aspect that needs to be developed with knowledge, expertise and training in catering to Muslim travelers in the tourism industry. Furthermore, travel agents and tour operators play a key role in facilitating travel by Muslims, especially for groups who travel with larger families. In the process of developing tour packages and operating tours for Muslim travelers, tour operators need to be aware of Muslim culture, the preferences and unique needs of Muslim travelers.

Training programs should be designed to produce well-trained and competent personnel to suit the particular needs of the Muslim travelers which will be beneficial for the tourism/ hospitality industry. Here are some suggestions should be taken in consideration for accommodation staff. Hoteliers/Homestay operators should always be ready to answer questions regarding prayer times, Qibla direction, nearby mosques and Halal restaurants. They should be educated about cross-cultural communication, the location of Muslim/ Arab countries, and basic knowledge about Islam. It is nice if they know some Arab/ Islamic words and use them to communicate with Muslim travelers. These include common phrases such as “Kaef Halalk” (how are you), “ahlan washlan” (welcome), “aslam alekom” (and peace upon you).

Moreover, housekeeping should be aware of etiquettes when entering prayer facilities. For example, they should show respect to prayer room in hotels and airport by taking off shoes before entering the prayer room. It also recommended not to walk in front of Muslim travelers during praying. For front office staff, it is better not to shake hands of the opposite sex if they are Muslims unless offered. Another sensitive issue for Muslim travelers from Arab world, never make fun of Niqab (cloth that covers the face as a part of sartorial hijab) Finally, it is forbidden for all staff working in tourism/hospitality industry to ask Muslim travelers questions regarding the group he/she belong to such as Shia or Sunnah. It is also recommended not open debates regarding Arab revolution or any politics issues.

Hoteliers/homestay operators should be ready for customization. For example, some Muslim families prefer female taxi driver or female staff for family, and session for female only in gym and swimming pool. Chefs in hotels and restaurants should be trained regarding the basic requirements for Halal cooking. They should be educated regarding the ingredients used in cooking to be in accordance with what is halal (permissible foods), the halal cooking methods, using special equipment or preparing equipment for halal cooking in a special way. They should avoid using dishes, pots, pans, etc. from a kitchen that also prepares non-halal food. For Muslim Travelers from Arab world. It is better to be ready with Halal Arab cuisine. Finally, travel packages designed for Muslim travelers should be accompanied by trained Muslim Friendly Tourist Guide. The promotion tools that is used in these packages should express respect for Muslim culture and Islam. For example, it is not recommended to use materials or images that are considered blasphemous in Islam.