Taiwan has ramped up efforts to attract Muslim travellers as the segment grows to become a significant tourism market globally.
To do so, it is quickly building critical infrastructure in the form of halal-certified manufacturers, restaurants, and hotels, shared TAITRA President Walter Yeh. The country says it now has 929 hotels that are "Muslim-friendly" across the country. By year-end, it expects the total number to exceed 1,000.
Muslim prayer rooms and related facilities are available in 13 national scenic areas, major mass transportation stations, and other public places, while "pork free" and "non-alcoholic" signs are displayed in night markets island wide.
To pave the way forward for more arrivals, Taiwan has relaxed visa requirements to enable visa-free entry for countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, and Brunei, as well as Malaysia and Singapore. In addition, visitors from Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, are all eligible for a visa waiver if they hold a valid US or Canadian visa.
This year, it ramped up efforts to market the country as a Muslim-friendly destination, targeting countries such as Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. A promotional film launched in August starring Malaysian actress Mira Filzah with social media personalities Aisha Liyana, Sharifah Rose and Yasmin Redzuan, highlights Muslim-friendly facilities and popular tourist sites.
Taiwan is gaining popularity with Muslim travellers, providing more than 30,000 visitors annually. Among the ASEAN region, Indonesia and Malaysia are key sources of growth in Muslim travel to Taiwan, says Datuk Hamzah Rahmat, executive director of Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations, an umbrella body of national travel associations in the ASEAN region.
He sees good potential in the country, which is "catching up very well despite being behind Japan and Korea, who have a head start on the Muslim market in ASEAN". With this current momentum, he expects that the country may soon rival the likes of Japan and Korea for a larger share of the Muslim market.
When asked about key draws, he cites "unique attractions and food" as top priorities for the ASEAN market. Local Taiwanese specialities that meet Muslim certifications "is a must too".