TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is eager to develop itself into a halal tourism destination, which is not only serving halal food or offering decent attractions, but also free from crimes and illegal activities.
Currently, the metropolitan city has a number of halal hotels, many halal coffees and restaurants, religious tourist destinations such as graves of Muslim saints, and Setu babakan Betawi (Batavia) traditional kampong.
Besides, Jakarta is also known for its Ancol Dream Land and beach, Kota Tua (Old City) area, several lakes and the Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park (TMII) located in eastern part of the city.
Sofyan Hotel Group is among the pioneer of halal hotels in Jakarta as it has developed the sharia hotel management since 2002.
In 2015, Sofyan Hotel Betawi won an award over Gloria Hotel Dubai and Landmark Hotel Dubai for category of World`s Best Family Friendly Hotels in an international halal tourism award event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Indonesian Ulemas (Islamic Scholars) Council (MUI) has lauded the Jakarta Administration`s plan to promote halal tourism. The MUI has helped set several criteria for meeting the halal tourism destinations.
Based on the criteria set by the MUI, the city must have no prostitution area, sell no alcoholic beverages in the public areas, no narcotics and other illicit drugs, among other things.
Deputy Governor of Jakarta Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno has said that Jakarta is expected to be fully ready to become a competitive halal tourism destination in Asia by 2020.
The special autonomous provincial government has also set a target of one million foreign tourist arrivals in Jakarta for the next five years. Halal tourism is suitable not only for Muslims but also for non-Muslims looking for convenient and friendly places while holidaying with their families.
"Jakarta will make a work plan on halal tourism implementation and halal products to support the program," Sandiaga said recently, while speaking in a focus group discussion on halal tourism and halal destination.
The city`s major products include halal food and Muslim fashion products, while its attractions include the Old City and Seribu Islands.
The Setu Babakan Betawi cultural center is also a potential halal tourism attraction, he said.
The Jakarta administration has planned to make Setu Babakan Betawi kampong located in South Jakarta, as a center for Jakarta culinary.
Besides, the Jakarta Administration will establish cooperation with the Syariah Economic Community and several universities to prepare the human resources for halal tourism program.
The Jakarta Governor has signed a gubernatorial regulation on halal tourism but it needs a minor revision to adjust to the current progress, he said in early March 2018.
In fact, the Jakarta government is preparing a halal tourism concept for the capital city.
To actuate the plan, Sandiaga said he has held a meeting with relevant institutions including the Food, Drugs And Cosmetics Agency and the Jakarta MUI branch.
Among the items discussed in the meeting was the halal certificates for several tourism destinations in Jakarta.
"We will try to identify one or two areas that we can certify as a halal destination," Sandiaga said at the City Hall on Feb. 1, 2018.
The halal tourism concept would focus on tourism objects that are certified as halal, including for its gastronomy industry.
"When a place is appointed as a halal destination, then everything must adhere to the sharia principles and halal stamp from the MUI," he said.
The Jakarta Tourism Office is now surveying for locations that are suitable to be turned into a halal tourism destination.
The halal tourism plan has been lauded by Director of the Jakarta Government-owned regional company Tourisindo (JakTour) G Jeffrey Rantung.
"Alhamdulillah (Praise to God), because halal tourism is also our vision, Rantung," said late last year.
Rantung said he had briefly discussed the halal tourism program with Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan who has shared a similar idea. He is optimistic that halal tourism industry will be beneficial to the capital city.
Meanwhile, according to the Global Islamic Economy Indicator, Indonesia ranks 4th for halal tourism, which is geared towards Muslim families who abide by rules of Islam. Indonesia is listed for the first time among the top ten countries with the best halal tourism ecosystem.
Besides Indonesia, the other top three countries that have well-developed halal tourism are Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.
Being the world`s largest Muslim population nation, Indonesia hopes to attract at least 3.8 million foreign Muslim visitors in 2018, and five million by 2019, which will contribute towards its target of 20 million foreign tourists in the same year.
In 2016, some 2.7 million foreign Muslim tourists visited Indonesia.
Currently, the Tourism Ministry has intensified promotions of five halal tourism destinations in Indonesia, namely Aceh, West Sumatra, Jakarta, West Java, and Lombok.
Halal tourism in Indonesia has earned numerous international awards, including three awards at the World Halal Tourism Award 2015 in Abu Dhabi and 12 awards at the same event in 2016.