Indonesia seeks bigger share of global halal tourism

Nurul Bilad Mandalika Grand Mosque in Mandalika, Lombok. (Photo courtesy Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation)
Updated 22 September 2017
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Indonesia seeks bigger share of global halal tourism

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government is looking to boost the country’s image as a halal tourism destination for Muslims from around the world.
The drive is part of the government’s efforts to boost state coffers and meet its 5.2 percent growth target this year. President Joko Widodo promised 7 percent economic growth rate on the campaign trail in 2014. The tourism sector contributed 4.23 percent of the country’s GDP in 2016.
The Muslim travel market is one of the fastest-growing segments in the global travel industry, according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2017, which was released in May.
The GMTI predicted that the Muslim travel market will be worth $220 billion by 2020 and $300 billion by 2026, spurred by Muslim-friendly amenities and easy access to travel information.
Around 121 million Muslims traveled internationally during 2016 — an increase of 4 million from the previous year. It is estimated that figure will reach 156 million by 2020 — accounting for 10 percent of the global travel market.
According to the GMTI, Indonesia ranks third — after Malaysia and the UAE — out of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“We aim to be in the No. 1 spot by 2019,” Hafizuddin Ahmad, a member of the halal tourism acceleration team at the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, told Arab News.
The government has assigned 10 destinations across the country for halal tourism, with Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara province, West Sumatra and Aceh as the Top 3.
“We assigned those destinations in accordance with the local culture and their readiness to adapt to the concept,” said Ahmad, who is part of a Shariah supervisory body for Sofyan Hotels, a local hotel chain that follows Shariah principles in its management.
Lombok Island has already made a name for itself as a halal destination, picking up World’s Best Halal Destination and World’s Best Halal Honeymoon Destination at the World Halal Travel Awards in 2015.
But Taufan Rahmadi, who oversees projects to accelerate the growth of the island’s Mandalika area as a tourism destination, stressed that it is not just Muslim tourists that Lombok wishes to attract.
“We do not apply special zones for halal or conventional tourism. Halal tourism should not override existing, conventional tourism,” he told Arab News. “We don’t want to scare the conventional tourists away.
“Our branding is in line with the culture and our local custom, as our competitive edge, compared to Bali,” Rahmadi continued, referring to Lombok’s more famous and popular neighbor, while pointing out that Muslims account for 95 percent of Lombok’s population. He also claimed to have “often heard” complaints from tourists who could not find halal services in Bali.
Lombok saw an increase in visitors from Middle Eastern countries last year, up to 240,989 from 182,143 the previous year. But Arista Atmadjati — a tourism lecturer from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta — said the island is hindered in its quest to attract further Muslim tourists by the fact there are still no direct flights from the GCC to Lombok.
“We are working on it. We are also working to have the runway in Lombok airport extended so that wide-body aircrafts can land,” Ahmadi said.
“Improved connectivity is a must so that Lombok can be a primary tourism destination instead of getting spillover from Bali where the tourists may have spent their money,” Atmadjati said.


Indian cancellation of defense equipment orders hurts investor sentiment: Experts

A tender was withdrawn for short-range surface-to-air missiles, with Israel’s SPYDER system having been the front-runner. Supplied
Updated 18 June 2018
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Indian cancellation of defense equipment orders hurts investor sentiment: Experts

  • New Delhi scrapped a $500 million deal for Israel’s Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile. Israel had agreed to transfer the technology to India, and had set up a factory in a venture with an Indian company
  • Modi wants the country to decrease its reliance on foreign firms, reduce its import bill and manufacture equipment in-house

NEW DELHI: The Indian government’s penchant for canceling or withdrawing tenders for defense equipment at the last minute is likely to hurt investor confidence in the country, experts said on Sunday.
New Delhi called off a $9 billion deal to co-develop with Russia a next-generation fighter aircraft, after the state-owned Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said it would do the job in-house, Indian media reported this week.
Under the deal, a significant amount of the research would have been carried out in India. Russia had agreed to tailor the aircraft to Indian needs, and was to hand over all the technology, the Economic Times reported.
India is the world’s largest importer of defense equipment, and imports at least 90 percent of its equipment, including parts for assembly.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the country to decrease its reliance on foreign firms, reduce its import bill and manufacture equipment in-house.
But India lacks much of the high-end technology needed for such equipment, which is why deals where foreign partners agree to share technology are useful for its long-term plans, experts say.
When such deals are canceled, “it greatly reduces confidence in India,” said Saurabh Joshi, editor of StratPost Media Pvt Ltd., a defense news website.
“We can’t willy-nilly… accept arguments that a particular equipment can be developed and produced indigenously before such tenders are withdrawn,” he added.
“There should be an adequate test to develop and produce indigenously. Otherwise, we’re simply postponing an acquisition process by 10 to 15 years, and it’s the armed forces that have to go without critical equipment until then.”
Experts say one reason for the government canceling orders could be a lack of funds. The Russian deal is not the only one to be jettisoned recently.
New Delhi scrapped a $500 million deal for Israel’s Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile. Israel had agreed to transfer the technology to India, and had set up a factory in a venture with an Indian company. The reason given for the cancellation was the same: To develop the missiles indigenously.
A tender was also withdrawn for short-range surface-to-air missiles, with Israel’s SPYDER system having been the front-runner, experts said.
On average, it takes a tender at least six years to go through the various steps before the final purchase order can be placed.
Any company that loses a bid has to account for that time and investment to its head office and its board, Joshi said.