Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ramadan In Malaysia Viable Option For Visitors - Azizan

The Malaysian hospitality industry is making special arrangements to welcome Arab travellers, as well as those from other parts of the world, during Ramadan which falls this year during peak holiday and travel periods in the Middle East.

Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general for planning Azizan Noordin said they would be able to observe the fasting month while holidaying in Malaysia without missing any of the action back home.

Addressing concerns that there may be less holiday traffic from this region during Ramadan, which begins sometime in August, he said many hotels in Malaysia would offer iftar and sahur (pre-dawn meal), along with a wide variety of Middle Eastern culinary treats for their Muslim guests.

They could perform 'tarawih' prayers at Malaysia's numerous mosques, he said, adding that Tourism Malaysia would cooperate with Islamic religious authorities in Malaysia to bring in more Middle Eastern imams to lead such prayers and conduct religious talks.

Speaking to Bernama on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2009 here, Azizan said Malaysia's famed shopping and mega-sale events would also be ideal for visitors to prepare for the Aidilfitri festival marking the end of Ramadan.

The summer holiday season in this region generally begins around the middle of next month and may last until the first week of September.

Azizan said the special arrangements for Ramadan were not just confined to visitors from the Middle East as tourists from other markets like Brunei, Singapore, southern Thailand and even China, might choose to experience the fasting month in a Muslim country like Malaysia.

Based on feedback, he said, young Arab couples without school going children might opt to go to Malaysia as early as end-May and return home just before the start of Ramadan.

Those with children may choose to travel to Malaysia around June 15, following national examination results and go back before the fasting month.

"But they may stay longer due to limited options. If they go to Europe, the days are longer, for example. So, Malaysia is the best place because it's a Muslim country where practising Muslims can observe Ramadan as it should be," said Azizan.

He said a special committee chaired by Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib was set up to look at how tourists could spend their time during the fasting month.

Noting that Arab visitors might travel to places like Langkawi, Penang and Melaka during Ramadan, Azizan advised the authorities concerned to do whatever deemed necessary to ensure they had an enjoyable stay.

The ministry, he said, would also allow Arabic-speaking students to register as temporary tour guides for the benefit of Middle Eastern visitors.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Ngiam Foon said Tourism Malaysia, hoteliers and other players had done the right thing in driving home the point that Malaysia had all the facilities to enable Muslims from all over the world to observe Ramadan.

"This will be the first season we're experiencing Ramadan during the summer holiday months. Hopefully, the outcome will be favourable from which we can learn how to improve things further, with Ramadan also expected to fall during the Middle East holidays and travel season in the next couple of years," he added.

Source : Bernama
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