Iran’s place in future of evolving halal tourism

The group of Developing Eight (D8) Islamic countries will meet in Pakistan’s mountain resort city of Murree next week to discuss strengthening tourism cooperation among the member states.

Iran (IMNA) _ The group of Developing Eight (D8) Islamic countries will meet in Pakistan’s mountain resort city of Murree next week to discuss strengthening tourism cooperation among the member states.

The two-day meeting on August 4-5 seeks to identify potential pathways to enhance intra-D8 tourism in line with the objectives and goals of the group.

It will bring together tourism experts of member states to strengthen their capacities and develop effective strategies for the post COVID-19 tourism era.

Participants hope it will provide a platform for member states to exchange knowledge and best practices to facilitate cooperation opportunities, and to explore possibilities to promote bilateral tourism.

The D8 group is an economic organization for developing cooperation among member states, namely Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt and Nigeria.

Established in 1997, it represents about 1 billion people, or 14 percent of the world’s population.

Muslim countries are scattered in Asia and Africa and have their own characteristics, with significant natural wealth and historical sites and pristine nature which can be a source of significant income for them.

If the political environment is reshaped in such a way that Muslims establish "Islamic tourism", the tourism industry in the world will take a different form and major transitions will take place.

Today, the tourism industry has become the third most profitable industry after the oil and auto industries.

The importance of this industry is that it does not require heavy initial investment, but it creates employment right away, reduces unemployment and increases income.

In fact, the job creation rate of the tourism industry is many times more than that in other industries, which is often cited as a primary reason to adopt as a pro-poor strategy.

Nevertheless, about 80% of the world's tourism flow occurs in industrialized countries and only 20% of the activities take place in non-industrialized countries, according to international statistics.

The tourism industry is such that every tourist or any group of tourists who enter the country requires a collection of jobs, including hotel management, transportation, industry and trading.

Hence, it can be a huge source of earnings for Islamic countries, provided that new sciences and techniques are used and a principled and precise planning is done for the industry.

This requires a proper management of cultural, social, economic, and even political-religious issues.

For the Muslim tourist, the spiritual atmosphere of Islamic countries has its own attraction. Many Muslims like to travel to areas where Islamic culture and values rule supreme.

Observance of Islamic values and customs, including access to halal foods and convenience in performing religious duties provides a sense of security and peace of mind for Muslim tourists.

Moreover, many Islamic countries are interested in cultural tourism. They prefer the kind of tourism that respects the Islamic culture and is open to promote and benefit from its spiritual assets.

Tourists who visit, enjoy and observe Islamic etiquettes and respect Islamic Sharia laws on hijab as well as prohibition of alcoholic beverages and outside marriage relationships are preferable.

Political events also affect Muslim tourist destinations. For example, before the September 11 incident, tourists from Qatar and Saudi Arabia used to travel more to Europe and the US, but after the incident, their trips to the United States declined sharply and visits to countries with a similar culture, such as Malaysia, became more prevalent.

With the increase in the income brackets of the Muslim communities, retail and recreational trips have increased among them, prompting Muslim and non-Muslim countries to create the necessary infrastructure to attract more Muslims.

According to the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) report, the number of Muslim travelers is expected to reach 140 million in 2023 and hit 160 million in 2024.

The average income of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) is also increasing, and in Western Europe and North America, more second- and third-generation Muslims are entering the labor market.

About 50 years ago, foreign travel by Muslims was limited to Saudi Arabia where they visited for pilgrimage. Other trips were considered a waste of time and money. But now, a young generation of Muslims who like to see the world and experience foreign trips without harming their religious values is emerging.

Iran is one of the candidates for the best tourist destinations in the world. The country has many facilities, including abundant halal amenities.

It is among the world’s top potential tourist destinations with a treasure trove of ancient sites, including 17 places listed by the UNESCO.

Iran has a diverse landscape and its tourism industry offers a myriad of recreational opportunities.

They range from hot mineral water showers in the northwest to hiking and skiing in the Alborz mountains to magnificent architectural sight-seeing in the center and beach holidays in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea.

Experts, however, cite a deficiency in proper promotion and presentation of the country’s tourism facilities which keeps many potential tourists at bay.

An oft-heard expression by foreign visitors is their wrong perceptions formed by negative media coverage of Iran which shatter after they visit the country.

The usual refrain in their exultations is often their real amazement at the people, food, history and culture of the country which is one of the world's most dynamic and prolific centers in arts, architecture and literature.


News ID 676496


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