When I was in primary school, my mother laughed when she held up a piece of clothing that had shrunk considerably after washing. Later, I learned that clothes will not shrink to a smaller size if they have the ‘sanforised’ label, as the fabric had been pre-shrunk.
Over the past decades, the most prevalent label I noticed was ‘Halal’, a term used to describe goods or services permissible to be consumed by Muslims. They include food and beverages, food premises, slaughterhouse and consumer goods such as cosmetics and clothing.
Many Malaysians look for the halal label when buying packaged foods and drinks, or the Halal signage at the entrance before stepping into a restaurant. My younger daughter, not a Muslim, did the same when she visited Xi’an in China as such establishments tend to be more hygienic.
In fact, the iconic Malaysia Halal logo is the most sought-after, globally recognised hallmark that serves as an emblem for the country’s reputation as the world’s leading halal hub. It all started in 1974 with the issuing of the first halal certification letters by the Prime Minister’s Office.
In 2000, Malaysia became the first country to have a documented and systematic halal assurance system. In 2005, the Jakim Halal Hub was established and was the world’s first certification body responsible for monitoring the halal industry.
As a tourism trainer, I have conducted training on safety and security of tourists and the first contingency plans workshops in Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. After the Covid-19 outbreak, I had added hygiene to be above comfort and convenience.
Before we get to provide service to tourists, we must first offer them good reasons to visit Malaysia and not elsewhere. But if we were to continue using the same methods as done during pre-pandemic, all the advertising and promotions will be like pouring water off a duck’s back.
We must use an effective label such as ‘Sanforised’ that is stuck in my mind for over 60 years although I have not come across it over the past decades. It must be a powerful word such as Halal. I believe the critical word for the future of tourism industry is ‘Sanitised’.
Sanitising reduces bacteria to safe levels and is a step up from cleaning although it may not kill every virus living on a surface, while disinfecting kills more germs than sanitising because it is more effective, especially on viruses and fungus.
However, ‘Sanitised’ is a better label as it sounds clean and hygienic, whereas ‘Disinfected’ implies there were infections and had to be removed. Both sanitisation and disinfection will be used for cruise ships, aircrafts, trains, buses, stations, airports, hotels, restaurants and theme parks.
The ‘Sanitised’ label is easily recognisable and make tourism products more saleable when travellers place hygiene, safety and security above comfort and convenience. Popular sites that offered great fun to large crowds are no longer attractive propositions post-pandemic.
Perhaps Motac can legislate ‘Sanitised’ as a controlled word to build up its reputation just like Halal. If not, it will be exploited by unscrupulous businesses as words such as ‘Spa’ and ‘Health Centres’ are used by establishments offering services with happy ending or more.