Tuesday 14, June 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: “The best and most important welcome to the visitors is with food. And if you are not halal, then there is a very important segment of society in the world that you are not extending a proper welcome to”, explains the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. during the launch of the Philippine Halal Tourism Project at the gastronomic event Madrid Fusion Manila in April 2016.
The Philippine Department of Tourism (PDOT) has set its sights on seeking a larger slice of the global Halal tourism market by making the Philippines friendly to Muslim tourists.
Citing a recent Crescent Rating data that sees the 117 million Muslim travelers rise to 168 million by 2020, Secretary Jimenez shared, “the Philippines is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that is determined to get 20 to 25 percent of the $200 billion global Halal market. The market is already there, with arrivals from Malaysia, for one, growing at a double-digit rate. The only thing that is wanting is capacity.”
The PDOT has worked with National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), Halal International Chamber of Commerce and Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (HICCIP), and Crescent Rating, to prepare the kitchens and facilities of 50 hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other tourism-related establishments in Manila, Baguio, Cebu, Boracay, Davao, Bohol, Palawan, Caraga, Zamboanga City, General Santos City, Koronadal, and Cotabato City, to be halal-certified.
“The PDOT is subsidizing the costs of halal certification and accreditation for 1 year; will provide training on global halal standards; and include the participating halal establishments in its sales missions and trade expositions abroad,” explained Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato, Jr., who oversees the implementation of Halal Tourism Project for the DOT. He cited several international events where the project was introduced, and the halal-certified establishments promoted, like The Riyadh Travel Fair in Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, and the 2nd Halal Tourism Conference in Konya, Turkey.
Secretary Yasmin Lao of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) lauded the DOT’s commitment to advancing the Halal industry, citing that PDOT Secretary Jimenez has once again shown political will in efficiently implementing “The Halal Tourism Project” in less than 100 days.
“I strongly believe that ‘The Halal Tourism Project’ will lead towards a way Muslim-Filipinos feel that they are so very much part of this country” the NCMF Secretary added, citing that halal will be a “game changer” in terms of economic development of Muslim-Filipinos.
“Of the 1.8 billion Muslim population worldwide, 1.3 billion of them are in this side of the world. If these figures are any indication, the potential of the halal industry in the Philippines to thrive is certainly endless, more so with an integrated ASEAN economy,” said Tourism Secretary Jimenez.
He pointed out that the PDOT has identified the halal industry as a potential growth area for development largely due to the increasing demand from the huge and growing Muslim markets from the Middle East, Turkey, Israel, India and the ASEAN countries for tourism. The estimated 10M Muslim Filipinos in the country also present new opportunities for halal domestic tourism.
Halal International Chamber of Commerce and Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (HICCIP), the official halal certification body in the country recognized by the NCMF to spearhead the local accreditation of participating halal establishments, defines halal as “things or actions that are permitted or lawful in Islam.” When referred to food or non-food products, “they are allowed for consumption or use as permitted based on the Shariah (Islamic) Law.”
Crescent Rating, the Singapore-based world’s leading authority on Muslim travel recognized for its independent rating and accreditation standard, will lend its expertise in developing a Muslim Visitor Guide for the Philippines, which is scheduled to be released in June 2016.