Taiwan doubles efforts to attract Muslim tourists

James Kon

Taiwan has doubled its efforts to be more Muslim-friendly and attractive, including training talents in the tourism sector, offering incentives for travel agencies to roll out Muslim travel packages and promoting Halal certified restaurants and establishments, as well as enlisting celebrities for marketing purposes.

This was stated by Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brunei Darussalam Andrew Lee at the ‘Lets Connect. Take a Journey to Taiwan’ event co-hosted by Creativo Sdn Bhd and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brunei Darussalam at the Radisson Hotel yesterday.

“Over the past several years the Halal travel market has undergone significant changes. At the start of this decade, businesses, hotels and tour operators provided functional services that catered to Muslim tourist needs.

“Halal Travel 1.0’s offerings include Halal food operations, water friendly washrooms and prayer facilities. Thanks to the rapid pace of digital and technological transformation, a new phase of Muslim travel is emerging, based on and defined by experience and connectivity – Halal Travel 2.0, involving technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality, to better engage Muslim travellers in the digital age,” Andrew said.

On the Covid-19 virus, he said, “As a result of the virus spreading, the tourism industry is expected to be among the worst hit. Although airlines are working to minimise the impact, hotels, museums, retail and dining sectors, and other businesses that rely on tourist revenue are expected to face major economic fallout from the outbreak.”

Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brunei Darussalam Andrew Lee in a group photo. PHOTO: JAMES KON

With experience in battling SARS in 2003 and exclusion from the World Health Organization, he said, “Taiwan and its medical system have prepared for the worst. Since the deadly new coronavirus began spreading from its epicentre in Wuhan in January, Taiwan has quickly reacted and closely monitors the situation.

“Hospitals, military bases, public transportation hubs and schools are receiving maximum attention to ensure the integrity of Taiwan’s disease management and prevention network. At the same time, the government is taking steps to maintain public supplies of surgical masks as a precautionary measure.

“Overseas shipments of two specific masks were also suspended until April 30. More importantly, the government has been working closely with the private sector by installing 40 production lines to help boost daily mask output up to 10 million pieces a day, making Taiwan the second largest masks producer in the world,” Andrew said.

The event, which brought together local travel industry and tourism members, aimed to strengthen relations and networks between businesses in the travel and tourism industries.

Taiwan Tourism Bureau (based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) Director Abe Chou delivered a presentation on the many Taiwan attractions.

“A total of 11.84 million visitors travelled to Taiwan last year,” he said, adding that “there are four seasons in Taiwan, so people see the many beautiful scenery in all seasons. Taiwan also offers multiple landscapes and geology, as well as great food trail.”

Places of interest include an oil paper umbrella making area, glass temple, railroad bikes, ramble small town, National Taichung Theater, Tunghai University, Lukang Folk Arts Museum, Qingjing Farm, Dome of Lights, Chimei Museum, Liushishi Mountain, Luye Plateau, Taroko Gorge, night markets, shopping paradise and 24 theme parks around Taiwan.

According to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2019 rating released by Crescent Rating Mastercard, Taiwan ranked third most Muslim-friendly among non Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members.