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South Korea and Japan striving to attract more Muslim Tourists TOURISM

(Tokyo-News Halal- Rajab 6, 1438H) South Korea and Japan striving to attract more and more Muslim tourists by introducing Halal Foods and Services compatible to Muslim visitor’s demand. In a bid to attract larger numbers of Muslim tourists Japan is restructuring its tourist industry so that it can better serve the specific needs of Muslims.

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Diversifying South Korea’s repertoire of visitors, the Korea Tourism Organization is planning to attract 1.2 million tourists from Muslim countries this year, up from what was roughly 980,000 in 2016.

Last year’s number was a 33-percent increase from 2015. Of the visitors, 740,000 were from Asia, largely Malaysians and Indonesians; 160,000 were from countries in the Middle East; and 80,000 came from other regions including the Americas and Africa.

The KTO is hoping to achieve a new milestone by building more halal restaurants in the country.

The project, dubbed Muslim Friendly Korea, will bring up the number of Muslim-friendly restaurants to 170 from 135. Four certifications for halal restaurants here exist – halal certified, self-certified, Muslim friendly, and pork-free. Owners can apply to the KTO (www.mfrk.or.kr) to have their restaurant officially recognized as a halal-friendly venue.

The organization started receiving new applications on Monday, a process that will continue until April 28, and will hold information sessions across the country during the period.

It also published a handbook to better host Muslim tourists for local governments and the tourism industry that includes information on the Muslim tourism market, halal foods, prayer rooms, and emerging trends in Islamic countries.

Throughout the year, the KTO will operate business-to-business consulting booths for local tourism companies at exhibitions and international fairs, including the Middle East International Exhibition planned for April, and the Indonesia Islamic Expo in October.

In September, the organization will host the Halal Restaurant Week to promote Korean-style halal food for Muslim visitors, with food tasting events and cooking sessions with Muslim chefs.

The importance of the Muslim Travel market segment is being realized by numerous countries around the world, with many deciding to embrace Halal Tourism. While the number of Muslim tourists to Japan is still low but the figures are increasing every year.

Being the host nation of the 2020 Olympics, Japan is expected to see a sharp boost in tourism in the near future. Over 20 million tourist visits are expected during that year, with over 1 million visits from Muslim travelers. Number of Muslim tourists in Japan expected to grow further at an average of 18.7 percent over the course of coming years.