Islam in Indonesia: Sharia Tourism

Tourists visit Taman Sari Water Castle in Yogyakarta. Photo via The Jakarta Post.

Sharia tourism among global Muslim travelers is a growing industry, and according to The Jakarta Post, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry in Indonesia is preparing to tap into that market. The government along with travel agencies, hotels, and restaurants will begin to create and promote tours for Muslim travelers.

The news outlet describes sharia tourism as “leisure and travel that complies with Islamic law, such as the provision of cuisine and beverages that contain no pork or alcohol, and the separation of men and women at tourist events and sites.”

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The ministry’s director for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, Rizky Handayani, said, “Sharia tourism is very promising because spending by Muslim tourists is growing faster than the global rate, and is forecast to reach US$192 billion globally per year by 2020.”

Currently, according to The Jakarta Post, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Argentina are countries that already offer sharia tourism, but Indonesia has seen a significant increase in travelers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain in 2012 alone, with tourists staying 10 to 14 days, a week longer than they stay in Australia and other Asian countries.

Indonesia Tour and Travel Agencies Association chairman Asnawi Bahar said that introducing sharia tourism was “a breakthrough in Indonesia’s tourism” but that the government would need to cooperate with hotels, tour agencies, and restaurants for the initiative to be successful.

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