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[Book Review] Islamic Tourism – An Evolving Travel Industry

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Islamic Tourism: Management of Travel Destinations edited by Ahmad Jamal, Razaq Raj & Kevin Griffin, CABI: Wallingford, UK, 2019. ISBN-13: 9781786394149, p. 275.

Tourism is one of the dynamic industries of the global world. Recently, new forms of tourism came into existence. The most debatable and densely contributing one among them is religious tourism and Islamic tourism purview under it. Islamic tourism is the least studied area in the whole phenomenon of religious tourism despite being the sole motivations to travel to destinations of sacred spaces from archaic times. Regarding the phenomenon of Islamic tourism, scholars have taken serious interests in comprehending the role of religion of Islam with tourism industry and the interconnectedness between them. The scholarly works came out under the titles of Islamic tourism or Halal tourism mainly by Henderson, Jafari, Al-Hamerneh, Shakiry, Din, Battour, Kessler, and Ismail etc. Islamic tourism defined so far refers to the sector of the tourism industry that confirms Shari‘ah adherence.

The book under review is a serious effort, in this regard, to encapsulate the newly emerging concept in a broader perspective. Indeed, this can be considered as a kind of serious initiative though much has been contributed before. This work is the first that exhibits the name Islamic Tourism after the magazine produced by Abdul Sahib Shakiry in 2001. However, the work is a collective endeavor of scholars related to religious and tourism studies ranging from Business Administration, Economics, Management studies and other disciplines as well.

Nonetheless, the study is based on 18 chapters which are divided into three parts. Part-1 is entitled as Theological Framework and Development of Islamic Tourism. This part is based on four chapters. Chapter first entitled Introduction by Jamal, Raj & Griffin, introduces the book with respect to its contents. It provides a glimpse of the chapters of the book as per their themes. Chapter 2 entitled Islamic Tourism: the Role of Culture and Religiosity by Jamal & El-Bassiouny evaluates the complex interference and interaction exchanges of socio-cultural institution in Islamic tourism industry. It also accounts the managerial considerations of cultural dimensions and motivations of Muslim tourists originating from diverse countries. This endeavors for future research on the interaction between Islamic tourists’ motivations, cultural orientations and religious commitment levels. Chapter three titled Religion and Islamic Tourism Destinations by Suleman & Qayum reflects on the intricacies of Islamic tourism, its management, the ongoing debate about it and awareness programme with respect to its prospects. It focuses for theological contextualization to frame religious tourism, beyond economic perspective. Muslim destinations need a nuanced and specific site of management considerations. The fourth chapter is entitled Marketing Approaches and Problems of Islamic Destinations by Bilim, Biskin & Kaynak. It aims to evaluate marketing approaches of Islamic destinations with a view to highlighting the problems and identify potential solutions.

Part-II Management and Development of Destinations is based on five chapters ranging from 5-9. Chapter-5 titled as The impact of Hajj satisfaction on Islamic religious commitment: A Theoretical Framework compiled by Utomo, Scott & Jin proposes a theoretical framework for assessing the impact of hajj satisfaction on levels of religious commitment experienced after the pilgrimage of Hajj. Chapter-6 Islamic Tourism and Use of Social Media by Rashid & Adwik refers to the diverse channels of social media; their use and the notion of Muslim scholarship. It depicts the need of further research to make adequate of use of social media for Islamic tourism. Chapter-7, Islamic Customer Relationship Marketing (ICRM) and Inspirations for Religious Tourism by Kawsar & Rashid considers customer relationship as one of the key goals of any marketer. Muslims are directed, in this regard, to enhance relationships both in personal as well as in business, keeping in view the pleasure of Allah and the welfare of the whole society. Chapter-8 entitled as The Impact of Umrah Quality Attributes on Religious Tourist Loyalty in Saudi Arabia by Alsini, Ekiz & Hussain have taken a sample of 650 Umrah pilgrims and tests a conceptual model. The result suggests that Islamic beliefs act as the most significant driver of tourists’ loyalty, followed by Islamic performance and tour guide services. Chapter-9, Sufi Tourism: The Impact of Sufi Heritage on Islamic Religious Tourism authored by Elhadary discusses the Sufi teachings of love, beauty and knowledge as virtues and their impact on tourism as an industry and on religious tourists undergoing this amazing spiritual experience.

Part-III Challenges and Issues: Global Case Studies is based on nine chapters, ranging from 10-18. Chapter-10 entitled as Religious Tourism in the Sultanate of Oman: The Potential for Mosque Tourism Thrive by Kessler & Raj considering the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque as a religious tourism destination permitting tourists to explore the understanding and spread of Islam. Chapter-11 labeled as An Opportunity Unexploited: A Pilgrim’s Observations on the Potential of Muslim Pilgrimage (Hajj) by Acar demonstrates some key problems, pilgrims encounter with, and proposes developments viz. better crowd management, introduction of a metro and turning the Hajj into an intellectual festival. Chapter-12 entitled Halal Tourism: Insights from Experts in the Field by Vargas-Sanchez & Moral-Moral describes the potential of Halal Tourism especially in Spain by undertaking a sample of 78 tourism related academics and industry experts including the mini meta-analysis of existing literature of Halal Tourism. Chapter-13 namely Battlefield Tourism: The Potential of Badr, Uhud, and the Trench (Khandaq) Battles for Islamic Tourism by Akbulut & Ekin literature is relevant to Dark Tourism. The authors elaborate how and in what sense battles can become tourist attractions. By quoting the Cu Chi Tunnels of Vietnam War and the Western Front of the First World War as examples of battlefields turning into tourist attractions, the relevance of historic battles of Islam is relevant. Chapter-14 titled as Holy Foods and Religious Tourism: Konya and Mevlevi Cuisine by Yilmiz, Guines & Sormaz discusses the relevance of holy food for Islamic tourism with respect to Konya and Mevlevi cuisine. Chapter-15 entitled as The Halal Tourism: A Business Model Opportunity by Biancone & Secinaro explores issues and concepts associated with ethical tourism identified as Halal tourism based on sustainability. Moreover, the authors demonstrate the ways to promote Halal Tourism in non-Muslim countries. Chapter-16, Religious Practices and Performance in Syrian Shi‘ite Religious Tourism by Yasuda considering literature along with own field research in Sayyedah Zeinab and other Shi’ite religious places in Syria from 2007 to 2011, the author describes the religious practices and performance in Syrian Shi’ite Religious tourism. Chapter-17 namely Constructs of Foot Pilgrimage in Islam: The Case of Arbaeen Ziyara by Mujtaba highlights the status of foot pilgrimage in Islam with special reference to Arbaeen Ziyara in Iraq. Chapter-18, Tablighi Jamaat: A Multidimensional Movement of Religious Travellers by Abbasi highlights the historical context of Tablighi Jamaat with respect to the religious travels (Dawah) and six points programme in context of religious tourism.

The work deals exclusively with the managerial aspect of Islamic tourism which indeed confirms a significant aspect of it. It focuses more on management of tourism as an industry and with respect to destinations and less in terms of definition and other necessary nuances of Islamic tourism. The contents of the book are enormous significant to develop somewhat Islamic tourism as an industry on the globe. It also motivates relevant scholars and practitioners to delve deep and work for the enhancement and better management of the Islamic tourism industry. Moreover, it acknowledges the significance of further research in this field.

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