Have Faith, Will Travel

Indalucia Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd’s director Nor’Azimah Abdul Aziz shares her experience on the mechanistic of organising Muslim tours.

Why is it that travelling abroad can be a hassle for Muslims?

Food is one the most crucial (details) of any travel package. Years ago, travelling for Muslims was more difficult mainly due to Islam’s specific dietary requirements. Food was a major problem as our counterparts abroad were generally nit equipped or knowledgeable to service discerning Muslim travellers. Things have changed today – people are more aware of the Muslim’s dietary demand as there are more Muslims travelling abroad. These days, I can easily write to my counterparts, say in Europe, and request them to arrange a Muslim package (for us).

How do you solve Halal food concerns for your clients going to non-Muslim destinations?

How we work is simple. We would inform our counterparts that our clients are Muslims and advise them on the definition of Halal – educating them that Halal meals and pork-free meals are not the same thing. We take great pains in ensuring that the food served to our clients in Halal in the (holistic) Islamic sense. We perceive it as our duty to ensure that meals (served in our Muslim packages) are Halal. In some cases when we are uncertain, we will then arrange for seafood meals.

In your opinion, why is Halal food more expensive than non-Halal food?

Halal food is considered specialty food in non-Muslim countries. And please take note the extra charge for transport as well, as in most instances we may have to arrange for additional transfers to take our clients to selected Muslim restaurants around the cities.

What is so edge-cutting about your Muslim packages?

INDALUCIA’s packages are personalised and customised to suit our clients’ needs with, of course, a huge emphasise on service. We take the trouble to consider every single detail – for instance our clients’ needs, be it their preference, their budget, or even their children’s needs. Our packages range from economy to VIP, covering both domestic and international for private and groups. We also have flight reservations and ticketing services. However, our Muslim packages are not solely restricted to food. Utmost attention will still go to Halal meals, but we will also include visits to Islamic cities with a special emphasis on their historical, architectural, cultural and community aspects.

Being in the tourism industry, you are perceived as someone who travels frequently. What have you observed from other Muslim countries around the world – in terms of solidarity and progress – compared to Malaysian Muslims?

Malaysia is a liberal Muslim country – a country, which is both modern and sophisticated.  Nowadays more often than not, I hear praises for Malaysia. Gone are the days when I would only hear, “Malaysia? Where?” Personally, I believe that Malaysian Muslims now are way ahead of their brothers and sisters around the world. I have noticed that in comparison, we are more tolerant of others and have been able to live together harmoniously with one another irrespective of religion or race. We feel safe as Muslims in our country and that is a comforting thought for any one of us. What is obvious too is that here men and women are treated as equals compared to other Muslim countries – something I cherish very much.

For more information on Indalucia Tours & Travel, log on to www.indalucia.com.

**This article was first published in The Halal Journal Pilot Issue (August 2004), and was written by Remi Yahya-Ishmael.

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