The Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) said that the government should push for more businesses that serve halal-certified foods to reel in more Muslim tourists into the country.
PTAA President John Paul Cabalza said that if the government were to push for the establishment of more restaurants that serve halal and create projects that would increase the presence of these foods in the domestic market, more tourists from Muslim communities worldwide will visit the Philippines.
There are currently only four establishments in the country that include halal dishes in their menu: the Heritage Hotel and the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City; the Manila Hotel in Manila; and the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City.
“The government should look at ways to encourage businessmen to set up businesses that cater to the needs of Muslim tourists. Because when properly tapped, this market can increase economic activities in many parts of the country,” Cabalza said.
He said that one way for the government do this is to ensure that there is ease in getting accreditation from halal-certifying bodies, especially in parts of the country which Muslim tourists frequently visit.
“Tourism is about total experience and satisfaction. If we cannot assure our Muslim visitors that the food we will be serving them strictly follows their religious beliefs, then we are potentially losing out on a big tourism market,” the PTAA head said.
Cabalza also said that the PTAA is eying the expansion of the products of its members into Muslim countries, and looking at the possibility of creating networks with their counterparts in countries with significant Muslim populations like Jordan, Indonesia and Iran.
“We had some talks with Iran’s ambassador to the Philippines and there is an open invitation for us to visit their country,” he said.
“We will have to assess if we can link up with our counterparts in those countries,” Cabalza added.
Jan Erick C. Tutaan