"Islamic Tourism" for whom?
Since the time when we decided to publish a magazine, specialized in one of the vital sectors of economic, social and cultural, under the title "Tourism Islamic", whose launching coincided with the event of September 11, 2001 in the United States and its consequences in terms of the fallacious charges against Islam and the Moslem community as a whole, the questions are still been raised as to the identity and the objectives of the magazine.
These question is renewed each time the international political and security situations are threatened by the hegemonic policy of the Western powers, in particular that of the United States which classified a certain number of States and Moslem political forces among "the Axis of Evil" and does all to fight them. And things have reached a state where equivalence has been established between Islam and terrorism.
The Question also raised with the increases of global interest in the publications of Islamic Tourism and its radiation, particularly through its noticed presence and its effective participation in the specialized tourism exhibitions and the specialised international congresses and forums. It is also raised with the extension of its diffusion and its radiation with the new editions in other languages, since Islamic Tourism is published now in five languages, Arabic, English, French, Spanish and German and has a very active website which published weekly news bulletins in the five above mentioned languages. Questions are also raised as Islamic Tourism receives a favourable reception from researchers, intellectuals, persons in charge for tourism, media and others.
We are obliged to answer, even repeatedly, to these questions and to the signs of puzzlement which we see on the faces of those who discover our magazine for the first time.
Since we live in the age of speed, it is necessary for us to answer with speed and brevity.
And our answer is: "Islamic Tourism includes all kinds of tourism that respect the noble human and family ethical values and manners, of which we find best the demonstration in our just Islamic religion".
That requires some definition and explanation of these concepts.
The definition is as follows:
1) Islamic Tourism is a magazine, a website and other media products that are produced by Technical Consulting and Publishing House (TCPH LTD), founded in England in 1983.
2) It is an international media, specialized in tourism. It works in a professional way to cover the regional and international exhibitions and congress of travel and tourism. It publishes news and reports on the major events of the world of tourism, with a particular emphasis on ethical, virtuous and civilized dimensions of tourism, such as heritage tourism, tourism of the religious sites, which started to extend thanks to the new conscience that has been enlightened by Islamic Tourism, which was the leading publication to clarify these types of tourism, and to show the promising prospects for them, as they are capable of having positive returns on the economies and the populations of the Moslem countries.
Why Islamic Tourism?
As for why Islamic Tourism, that can be explained as follows: The nature of my vocational training as an industrialist, and my experiences that have been formed through my work, travel and the scientific follow-up through my visits to the international exhibitions and the tourism travel which I carried out during sixty years - started in 1947 in Syria and in Lebanon, these voyages continue up to now, thanks to God - all that gave me a great practical sense to detect the sectors of development and the potential economic opportunities in each sector of life and its sciences. In addition to all this, faith and humanism always prevailed in my thought, my work and my relations with the others.
On the basis of these considerations, I found that there are resources and tourist treasures of heritage hidden under the dust of time and space. These were the Islamic heritage which it belongs to the humanity, and which, if one draws attention to them, they would become a center that radiates civilisation whose returns would be beneficial to their people and the world tourist sector.
I found that many countries started to become aware of the importance of tourism to revive their economy and to improve the level of income of their people. Thus, they started to create tourist sites and infrastructures, spending millions, even billions, in the construction industry and advertisements, while at the same time the success and economic profitability are not guaranteed for various reasons: the plan, execution, environment, competition, safety, the policy or the imitation of widespread tourist models in other countries, which negatively assign it to the social standings, ethical, security, harmful consequences of tourism that were in non conformity with our values and our traditions, which involves a degradation of the values of international tourism on a level that cannot be accepted anywhere in the world.
Due to these thoughts and my religious background; I noted that there are tourist potentialities that cannot be competed with by any movement of travel or tourism, nor in its volume, its permanence, its fame, or its generalization at all the ages and social strata. It is that which is coming from the faith of any Moslem. It should only be developed so that it becomes a means of enrichment of civilization and peace in the world.
What is this tourism?
It is the religious tourism and visits to the holy places at the various seasons throughout the year. Does this tourism mean Islamic Tourism?
The firm answer is yes, but Islamic tourism is much broader; one cannot determine it through one or two concepts. It includes all kinds of family tourism that respects religious principals; as well as tourism aiming at the discoveries of old civilizations and their heritage, visiting cities and countries to come to know them, to rest, or for recreation and treatment.
This conception of tourism, one finds it, more or less, in certain paragraphs of the "international Code of ethical tourism" adopted the 1/10/1999 by the world Tourism Organization, which is an organization of the UN. Tourism from the Islamic point of view is integrated in the global vision of civilized and interdependent tourism, whose principal bases are:
1 respect of the noble human values and ethics which preserves for the human being his dignity and pride.
2 respect for the natural and societal environment
3 support for social solidarity by taking care to profit the local populations from the tourist activity
4 making the effort to give the right of travel to all people by offering services at suitable prices to all the social classes
5 respect for the families of various religions and various people who want to preserve their values and the education of their children
6 respects for people who observe the Islamic values; those prohibiting certain things permitted by certain societies which adopt the principles of freedom and democracy, without limits nor regulations.
From this point of view, tourism, due to the opportunities it offers people of different religions and cultures to come to know each other, can play a major role in bringing people together, providing mutual understanding and peace between the people of the whole world, and not only between its rich persons.
What are the requirements of Islamic Tourism?
The answer to this question requires studies and analyses of this tourism, the roots of which extend into many centuries. It needs also actions in order to raise the level of its activity so as to increase the participation of all the social classes aspiring to the various types of ethical tourism which conforms to the human values and manners in understanding between people and nations. It also requires the construction of the infrastructures (means of transport, hotels and restaurants) respecting ethics, manners of family and Islamic tourism values. It requires finally the development of programmes of travel and visits to the areas which plan to promote their multiple products in accordance with the principles stated above, particularly the holy cities, sites, places and the religious, historical or different festivities.
What is the role of the international organizations in the highlighting of the human values and manners of tourism?
Many international and regional organizations can play an effective role in the development and the extension of tourism in its noble and civilized conception. One can quote the following ones:
· world Organization of tourism (OMT): www.world-tourism.org
· UNESCO: www.unesco.org
· ISESCO: www.isesco.org
· Organization of the Islamic Congress (OCI): www.oic-oci.org
· the Arab League: www.arableagueonline.org
· other regional organizations.
For all that has been just said, doesn’t it need field studies and analyses of the historical and social aspects and doesn’t that require the foundation of an academy of Islamic Tourism? We will come back later on to this subject, but the future alone will answer the question.
May god guide us to success.