During the last week’s Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM +) 2015 held in Bangkok, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced its latest service for Muslim visitors to find Muslim-friendly products, services and facilities nationwide. As the Halal products and services increasing its popularity in the world, Thailand introduces its first App designed specifically for this market.
To be launched on 22 June, 2015, the App for IOS and Android will be both an online and offline guidebook that will help Muslim visitors find mosques, halal restaurants and hotels, shopping centres with prayer rooms, and other facilities around the country.
Initially to be in Thai and English, the App fits in within the newly-launched strategy to position Thailand as a Muslim-friendly destination. It will be expanded to include Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia later.
During TTM +, TAT invited 113 representatives of travel agencies and media from Iran, Egypt, Kuwait, Tunisia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Oman, the UAE, Turkey, India and Singapore to participate in the forum. A table-top session was organised between 92 Thai tourism operators interested in attracting the Muslim market and representatives of the invited travel agents and media. Later, the invitees also had a chance to meet with other tourism operators exhibiting at the TTM+ 2015.
Addressing the opening session, Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Acting Governor, TAT, said, “This is a very special and historic moment for us, as it marks the launch of a new strategy to more strongly position Thailand as a “Muslim-friendly destination.”
“A new borderless ASEAN will emerge from 2016 onwards, after which we project a huge increase in Muslim visitors from our ASEAN neighbors to the South, specifically Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.”
The Muslim population worldwide is about 1.6 billion, representing 23 percent of the total global population and, still, has plenty of room to grow. As such, Thailand has great potential to serve this market in which there is a whole new generation of young Thai-Muslims emerging nationwide, who will seek promising opportunities in the tourism sector in the future.
Thailand is already the top destination for Middle East travelers in Asia in which amongst the non-Muslim countries, it is ranked second in the world by the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015.
Mrs Juthaporn said, “We believe this is because we have the required range of products and services for Muslim travelers. We are already seeing many of our shopping complexes providing facilities for Muslim prayers. Halal food is also becoming commonplace. We are also seeing increasing investor interest in developing halal tourism hotels. All this is good for us because it will create jobs for our emerging younger generation and promote national inclusiveness and integration.”
“We also aim to attract Muslim families to spend the upcoming Holy Month of Ramadan in Thailand, especially in some of our South Thailand beach resorts; such as, Phuket which is gearing up to be a halal food center and Krabi which is positioning itself as a “Dream Destination for Muslims”.”
The forum participants also discussed opportunities for tourism in the southern provinces proposed routes linking Sungai Kolok-Kelantan for promoting Muslim tourists between Thailand and Malaysia.
They were also taken on fam trips to survey tourism products and services for Muslim tourists in Pattaya, Hua Hin and Phuket. The trip included special spots of potential interest to the high-end and intermediate markets, family and women groups.
TAT has also produced a number of guidebooks and brochures to help Muslim visitors; such as, “Halal Check-in Thailand, which contains a list of halal certified restaurants and Islamic attractions in the southernmost provinces (Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani).