MOSQUE TOURISM IN MALAYSIA: A MARKETING PERSPECTIVE
Mosque tourism is one of the niche areas in the field of Islamic tourism that is expanding rapidly. The presence of mosques with outstanding historical, heritage, and aesthetic values have attracted foreign and domestic tourists to visit, appreciate, and experience these Muslim places of worship. As Islamic tourism is gaining popularity and the importance of mosques as tourist attractions is growing, it is therefore useful to explore mosque tourism in the context of Malaysia. While a number of investigations have researched mosque tourism in the contexts of motivations, residents’ attitudes, and architecture uniqueness, limited studies have examined Muslim places of worship from the perspective of marketing. Hence, this paper focuses on how Malaysian mosques have been promoted in tourism materials. Content analysis was utilised in the assessment of textual descriptions and visual images of mosques that have been featured in tourism promotions for over seven decades. Findings of this paper uncovered that mosques have been represented in tourism brochures published from 1969 to August 2019. Two of the earliest mosques that appeared in tourism brochures are Kapitan Kling Mosque and the Malay Mosque (Masjid Kampung Melayu) in the promotion of Penang as a tourist destination. Over time, Zahir Mosque and Ubudiah Mosque are two of the religious buildings that have been incorporated into tourist brochures prominently. From a holistic point of view, the representation of mosques is primarily integrated as part of the presence of various places of worship and multi-ethnic societies living in Malaysia. Indirectly, this portrays the image of harmony and peace among multi-ethnic communities, which further highlights Malaysia as a “Truly Asia” destination and contributes towards uniting plural societies via cultural and heritage resources.
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