TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The government will is finalizing the standardization for the Islamic tourism sector, which will cover three industries; restaurant, SPA services, and travel agency.
"We are targeting to complete it by September," Esty Reko Astuti, director general of tourism marketing at the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, said in a discussion, last weekend.
Esty said that standardization is necessary to spur economic growth in sector, particularly as there is huge potential in the global Islamic tourism business. "We cannot keep watching from the sidelines, but must become to be a reliable player. Malaysia has left us far behind," she said.
Last year, money circulation in the Islamic tourism sector amounted to US$137. By 2018, the government expects the number to increase to US$181 billion.
The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy noted a significant increase in the number of travelers from the Middle East. As of May 2014, the number of Egyptian tourists traveling to Indonesia surged by 69.98 percent, year-on-year (YOY). The number of tourist from the United Arab Emirates rose 68.03 percent (YOY), and from Saudi Arabia the number is up by 43.7 percent (YOY).
Riyanto Sofyan, owner of the sharia hotel network Hotel Sofyan, welcomes the government's plan. Riyanto said the economic potential of the Muslim world is great, with some 56 percent of the world's Muslims today being in their productive years.
"They are beginning to change their habits; from being traditional Muslims to becoming futuristic Muslims that do not reject the changes of times," he said.
According to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the gross domestic product of Islamic countries who are OIC members reached US$9.6 trillion, just below the United States' of US$16 trillion and above China's US$8.5 trillion.
Yopi Nursali, executive director of the Indonesian Sharia Hotels and Restaurants Association, said there are currently 35 hotels listed as sharia-based hotels. "Of some 2,000 hotels in Indonesia, only 100 are friendly to Muslim tourists, with 35 of them listed as sharia-based," he said.
JAYADI SUPRADIN | ALI HIDAYAT