Becoming a Muslim-friendly travel destination has been a priority for The Government of Taiwan for several years. Other countries in the Far East aim to boost tourism and exports in a similar manner.
Albeit only 0,2% of the population is Muslim, the leaders of the tiny country set their sights on a potential market of more than 800 million Muslims in Asia. Indonesia alone, one the prime halal markets, has a population of 200 million people. The State of the Global Islamic Economy 2016/17 forecast the global spending by Muslim consumers to rise from $1,9 trillion in 2015 to $2,6 trillion by 2020.
To earn the Muslim-Friendly title, President Tsai Ing-wen introduced an initiative in 2016. The government-financed program includes adding prayer rooms to train stations and airports, training of travel guides on the different cultural norms. An annual halal expo in Taipei is established to help domestic businesses to develop and promote their own halal products.
Furthermore, the Tourism Bureau is recruiting travel bloggers and web celebrities from Indonesia and Malaysia to advertise Taiwan as a Muslim-friendly travel destination for halal journeys. Another countries of the wider region, Singapore, Thailand, have similar state-funded programs to bolster halal exports and tourism.
Muslims are the main target group for Pei-Yu Wu and her travel agency. The Taiwanese woman once took a team of Muslim delegates to a night market where she accidently bought them a street food called cong zhua bing, which is cooked in pork grease. She used this embarrassing experience as a driver to open Halal Trip Guru. Wu says that her business models is based on the idea of cultural exchange. ’We want to help make it easy for them’ – says the entrepreneur.
The efforts of the state and entrepreneurs like Pei-Yu Wu shows that 80,000 more Muslims visited Taiwan in 2018 than a year before.
Crescent Rating, a site dedicated to halal travel, warns in the age of interconnectedness and social media word for Islamophobia travels very fast. If Muslims sense hostility or if they don’t feel welcome, they will likely avoid a travel destination.
Despite the close ties and abundant shared history with the Muslim world, halal tourism is stagnating in mainland China. This has to do with the perceived persecution of the Uyghur community and the fact that Beijing does not divert sources into this specific area. Private ventures always follow the state’s initiative here.
Source: Tunf news