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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17: Pondokstay, a unique tourism niche that combines Islamic tourism, edutourism, and community-based tourism (CBT), is a relatively new product with potential to be explored as a key offering to appeal to the global Muslim tourist market.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri has lauded the move by Malaysia’s industry players to diversify their tourism product offerings to cater to the Muslim tourist market.
“With adequate support in terms of research and marketing, pondokstay can become another exemplary tourism product that champions local communities and their culture, much like homestay and kampungstay,” she said in a media release today.
Nancy was commenting the efforts of pondok operators, Yayasan Al-Jenderami in Selangor, Pondok Borakatul Qodiri in Melaka, and Pondok Sungai Durian in Kelantan, offering tourism facilities such as accommodation and experiences such as silat performances, firework shows, and communal work with local communities on top of religion-related classes.
As the product is gaining attention, she pointed out that proper guidelines need to be in place to define what constitutes pondokstay to ensure a top quality, holistic, and inclusive product.
“The term ‘pondokstay’ should reflect a dynamic concept taking into account various factors, such as economy, social and lifestyle, community sustainability, good values and best practices, structure and infrastructure, hygiene, health and safety, besides its religious contents,” she said.
She also mentioned that the Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) is always open to cooperating and collaborating with partners to enhance the value of existing tourism products as well as develop new ones under the Muslim Friendly Tourism and Hospitality concept.
“ITC is actively strengthening existing Muslim-friendly tourism and Islamic tourism branding,” she added.
Among efforts by ITC to develop Muslim-friendly tourism is its Islamic Tourism Research Grant (ITRG).
In 2019, ITC commissioned a study on the conceptual development of pondokstay as an Islamic edutourism product.
A team of researchers from three universities – Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Pasir Gudang, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) were awarded the funding to conduct the research and the outcomes of the study were presented at the “Pondokstay Development in Islamic Tourism” webinar recently.
Pondok or sekolah pondok has been regarded as Malaysia’s earliest form of traditional Islamic learning institution which now has become an integral part of the Malay community.
Over time, pondok education evolved, and the term ‘pondokstay’ was coined to indicate a unique tourism niche that combines Islamic tourism, edutourism, and CBT.
It has become a recommended option for tourists seeking to escape their day-to-day routine for the tranquility of the kampung life while experiencing Biah Solehah (an Islamic environment) and explore the Malay Muslim culture of Islamic education.
Pondokstay enables visitors to live in a pondok environment, experience the lifestyle of the community, and interact directly with the locals during their stay. — DayakDaily