Taipei--The number of restaurants in Taiwan that have been given halal certification -- which identifies them as serving food in compliance with Islamic dietary law -- has broken the 100-mark, the head of the Tourism Bureau said Friday.
"We hope to see the number reach 200," Chou Yung-hui (???) said, pointing out that Taiwan is making efforts to move toward a more friendly environment toward Muslims in a bid to attract Muslim visitors.
Chou made the remarks at a ceremony to grant halal certification to 28 restaurants, including 16 in hotels, which were issued by the Tourism Bureau, in collaboration with the Taipei-based Chinese Muslim Association.
This brings to 104 the number of restaurants throughout the country that are now certified as halal, which, among other things, means that they do not serve certain foods such as pork or alcohol, which are not permissible under Islamic law, according to the association.
Chou said that according to statistics from MasterCard, Taiwan ranked 10th in overseas tourism destinations for Muslims last year, and the ranking could move to seventh this year.
This shows that Taiwan is making progress in attracting Muslims, and more restaurants getting Halal certification is a major indicator of this, Chou said.
The Tourism Bureau, in a bid to promote Taiwan's halal-certified restaurants, is scheduled to invite Dato Fazley Yaakob, a master chef celebrity from Malaysia, to serve as a special guest at the Taiwan pavilion at the MATTA Fair, a major event in Malaysia tourism industry, March 17-19 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In addition to taking part in tourism fairs in Muslim countries, the bureau will issue a Muslim tourism booklet in English, Malaysian and Indonesian next month to promote Taiwan as a Muslim-friendly nation.
Although foreign tourists broke the 10 million-mark last year, there is ample room for growth in the number of Muslim visitors, according to the Tourism Bureau.
Visitors from Indonesia, which has the biggest Muslim population in the world, saw a decrease of 4,000 over the past two years after reaching 36,000 in 2014.
Visitors from Malaysia, which has a Muslim population of around 60 percent, reached a peak of 339,000 last year after a decrease of 17,000 in 2015.
Visitors from the more affluent countries in the Middle East saw only modest growth.
Visitors from the United Arab Emirates doubled to 934 last year, while those from Saudi Arabia grew by 28 percent to 273 last year, and those from Kuwait grew by 8 percent to 126.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel