The Jakarta Post
Yogyakarta's Beringharjo Market in October 2017. (Shutterstock/Jaya Tri Hartono)
The Jakarta Post / Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta tourist players participated in a forum held recently and agreed that it is time for the cultural hub to develop its halal tourism, especially considering the rising demand for halal tourist destinations globally.
Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies' (ASITA) Yogyakarta branch Sudiyanto said that halal tourism was important, partly because of fast growth of the global Muslim population and the Indonesian middle-class.
“This is an opportunity,” said Sudiyanto, adding that today’s Muslim tourists mostly comprised millennials from Southeast Asia who traveled for leisure with a modest budget.
He said it was crucial for tourist stakeholders in the city to understand the needs of Muslim travelers so they can create products and services suitable for them.
Things that need to be considered in preparing tour packages for Muslim travelers include halal foods, prayer facilities, water systems, especially for ablution purposes, halal activities, and separate facilities for male and female tourists.
Sudiyanto criticized the marketing and promotion of halal tourist products, which he said was not up to standard.
He, therefore, urged for cooperation between local administrations and the tourist industry to increase the number of tourist events and help stakeholders to develop halal tourist products.
Tourism observer Tazbir concurred, saying that as Indonesia’s second top tourist destination after Bali, Yogyakarta had potential in terms of its culture, nature, heritage and cuisine.
“Yogyakarta is lagging behind in terms of this [halal tourism] compared to other destinations such as Aceh, Lombok and West Sumatra, which have gained international recognition as halal tourist destinations,” said Tazbir, who is also the former Yogyakarta provincial tourism agency head.
Secretary of the Indonesian Ulema Council’s (MUI) Yogyakarta branch Ahmad Muhsin Kamaludiningrat said that Yogyakarta had in fact been designated a sharia tourist destination by president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, together with 11 other regions in the country, in 2013.
He said that, to support the former president's move, his office had launched a series activities, including workshops, to help realize the goal.
“The people’s response was incredible,” said Kamaludiningrat. (asw)