Key roles of MFAR and MFTG in Muslim-friendly tourism sector

Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality Assurance and Recognition (MFAR) and Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guide (MFTG) recognition programmes play a key role in gaining the trust and confidence of Muslim travellers, said Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) director-general Nizran Noordin. 

Nizran said that MFAR aims to enhance tourists’ satisfaction and experience in Malaysia, allowing them to explore the country’s cultural, natural, and other attractions.

“Just like how Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia’s (JAKIM) halal certification has been helpful for Muslims in their decision-making when it comes to food and consumer goods such as medicine and cosmetic products, for example, MFAR aims to provide the same recognition for tourism products and services,” Nizran said. 

“This is where we see our MFAR and MFTG recognition programmes playing a key role in gaining the trust and confidence of Muslim travellers,” he added.

While MFAR focuses on Muslim-friendly tourism, it does not exclude non-Muslim patrons from recognized premises.

“The MFAR is simply a marketing tool to communicate that the business ope­rator can provide value-added services or facilities that Muslims may look for such as prayer facilities, water for ablution and halal food,” Nizran said, reported The Edge.

“Increased Muslim tourist arrivals means that there will be demand for a variety of faith-based goods and services during the vacation period,” he notes. “Muslim tourists on holiday will look for activities and recreation that do not go against their faith obligations.”

Hence, ITC sees opportunities for Malaysian businesses to provide Muslim-friendly and family-friendly entertainment, activities, and events, along with spa and wellness services that respect gender preferences and ensure client privacy.

Malaysia has consistently ranked first as a Muslim-friendly destination in the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) since its inception in 2015. In 2023, Malaysia was honoured as the “Muslim-Friendly Destination of the Year” and “Muslim Women-Friendly Destination.

“These recognitions give ITC further motivation to reach out to more tourism industry players and inform them of the opportunities in Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality,” Nizran said.

Malaysia to be leading umrah hub

Additionally, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) plans to establish Malaysia as a leading Umrah hub in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania to boost Muslim tourist arrivals.

For Visit Malaysia Year 2026, the goal is to attract 35.6 million tourists and generate RM147.1 billion in receipts.

“It’s clear that there are many opportunities for tourism industry players and entrepreneurs to take advantage of this development and create products and services for this market,” said Nizran.

He highlights that the expansion of the Muslim tourist market could support sectors like banking, finance, and insurance by providing payment gateways, digital wallets, and travel insurance tailored for Muslim travellers.

The newest MFAR now recognizes Muslim-friendly tourism products based on Malaysia’s globally accepted standards (MS2610), which include worker welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).

Meanwhile, MFTG certifies MOTAC-licensed tourist guides who have completed a three-day ITC training and passed an assessment on the Muslim tourist market.

To simplify the MFAR application process for hotels, ITC has created a rating system. Businesses can earn silver, gold, or platinum MFAR recognition based on their commitment and compliance with the guidelines.

“ITC hopes industry players will adopt all these recognitions to provide greater assurance to Muslim tourists, especially as we prepare for Malaysia to be an Umrah hub for Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania,” Nizran said.

In 2019, ITC introduced the MFAR
and MFTG programs. These initiatives aim to ensure quality services, boost tourist confidence, and create new market opportunities.

MFAR, the first government-backed recognition program, covers various areas like accommodation, wellness, medical facilities, travel, and entertainment venues.

MFAR, the first government-supported recognition program, recognizes businesses providing Muslim-friendly services in various sectors: tourist accommodation, spa and wellness, medical facilities, travel management, transportation hubs, tourism products, shopping centers, theme parks, rest and recuperation areas, and trade and convention centers.

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