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Taiwan aiming to attract more Muslim tourists

Taiwan is working to attract more Muslim tourists as part of its efforts to expand its tourism

By Elaine Hou / 27 Mar 2013

Taiwan is working to attract more Muslim tourists as part of its efforts to expand its tourism, the Tourism Bureau said Monday at a briefing by Muslim travel market experts.

Last year, the number of foreign tourist arrivals to Taiwan reached a record high of 7.3 million, but the percentage of Muslim tourists remained small, said Eric Lin, director of the bureau’s international affairs division.

Lin said the bureau has been working with the Taipei-based Chinese Muslims Association over the past few years to create a Muslim-friendly environment that would include the certification of Muslim restaurants and hotels.

With the focus on Muslim tourists,“we now need to step up our efforts” to understand and cater to their needs to make Taiwan more attractive to them, he said.

To this end, the bureau commissioned the association to invite experts on the Muslim travel market to meet Monday with representatives of restaurants and hotels in Taiwan.

Darhim Dali Hashim, chief executive officer of the Malaysia-based International Halal Integrity Alliance, said that the majority of the world’s Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region.

Taiwan is within short distance by air from many Muslim countries in Asia such as Malaysia, he said.

“That represents an opportunity for Taiwan,” he added.

On the subject of restaurant services, one expert said Muslim diners would need to have Halal food and a prayer facility.

There is no big difference, however, between Muslim tourists and other travelers, said Fazal Bahardeen, founder and CEO of Crescent rating, a travel portal dedicated to Muslim tourists. Muslim visitors just need to be able to preserve their religious values, he added.

Halal restaurants do not serve certain foods such as pork or wine, as these are not permissible under Islamic law.

After the briefing, the tourism bureau held a ceremony at which it granted Halal certificates to an additional 16 restaurants around Taiwan.

 

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