Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country, hopes to become a hotspot for “sharia” tourism. It’s an increasingly profitable market, the AFP (via the Guardian) reports:
While there are no official figures for “sharia” tourism in Indonesia, the sector is experiencing strong growth internationally.In a recent report, Muslim-oriented business group CrescentRating, predicted the sector would be worth $192bn a year globally by 2020, up from $140bn in 2013.“The economic growth of Middle Eastern countries is very good and we see an opportunity there,” senior tourism ministry official Rizki Handayani told AFP. […]The government has produced tourist guides promoting Indonesia as a “Muslim friendly destination”. It highlights the country’s best “sharia” tourism destinations and notes there are more than 600,000 mosques in the archipelago.
One of the biggest questions in Indonesia’s future is whether Wahhabism will gain influence in a Muslim country known for its tolerance and pluralism. The increase of tourists from the Middle East, then, is a small trend but one worth watching.Indonesia is an Asian tiger not yet grown—it has enormous economic and geopolitical potential, but needs a slew of reforms to really get going. Though he has his work cut out for him, Joko Widodo, the country’s new and charismatic President, is thought to be the reformer the country has been waiting for. If so, we’ll count that as very good news indeed.