Taiwan to double efforts to woo Muslim tourists

Taiwan sees downward trend in number of Muslims visitors

Muslims at a Taipei carnival (Travel Taipei website photo)

Muslims at a Taipei carnival (Travel Taipei website photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan will up the ante and pledge more resources to attract visitors from the Muslim world, as tourist data fails to impress even with the island working to create a Muslim friendly environment.

According to the Tourism Bureau, the number of Muslim travelers to Taiwan continues to decline, having fallen to 170,000 in 2018 from a peak of 200,000 in 2015, reported UDN. The trend has sounded an alarm for the Taiwanese government as it grapples with losses in tourism revenue incurred by China's ban on solo travel to the island.

Location-wise, Taiwan is supposed to be the preferable choice over Japan and South Korea for Muslim communities, which are primarily found in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Middle East, and Africa, said Huang Cheng-tsung (黃正聰), associate professor of Providence University's Department of Tourism.

The fact that Taiwan was ranked the third most Muslim-friendly country outside of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, according to the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index 2019, should also have helped to increase its tourist appeal, he added.

Nevertheless, with no more than 200 Halal-certified restaurants across the island, one Halal eatery is, on average, 100 kilometers from the next one — a factor that could drive away potential visitors. Taiwan should aim to establish at least 1,000 Halal restaurants and consider opening up the independent travel market to make itself more attractive, Huang reckoned.

Measures have been taken to address the issue, including continuing to train talent in the sector, offering incentives for travel agencies to roll out Muslim travel packages, and making efforts to enlist celebrities from target countries for marketing purposes. An initiative to “double” the visitor volume from the Muslim world is set to be launched next year, said the Tourism Bureau.