MORE visitors and participants are expected to join the Philippine Halal Tourism Expo following the chairmanship of Philippines for the Asean 2017 and Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga).

The expo, set sometime this summer in Davao City, is spearheaded by the Universal Islamic Center.

Marilou Ampuan, chair of the Halal committee of the Philippine Tourism Congress and president of Universal Islamic Center, told reporters Tuesday, January 24, during the Davao Business Forum at Dermpath, SM City - Ecoland that they purposely scheduled the expo this summer to coincide with the upcoming Asean meeting here on the last week of April and the launching of the Bimp-Eaga's Davao-Gensan-Bitung roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) sea route.

"This is an opportune time, we expect that the number of visitors (in the event) will be doubled as compared last year (200 participants) because this summer we already have a bigger captured market provided the influx of foreign visitors coming here for the various international meetings to be held in the city," Ampuan said.

In 2016, the organizers were able to gather some 200 participants throughout the three-day expo.

For this year, a strengthened "business-to-business" gathering will be staged within the three-day expo.

The expo, Ampuan said, is aimed at increasing increase the public's level of awareness of Halal and position Philippines, especially Davao City, as a Halal hub through aligning programs for Halal tourism, one of the fastest growing global tourism concepts.

She added that the event will serve as a venue for local and international players and stakeholders to meet and discuss opportunities, challenges and plans.

The expo will also showcase a wide range of Halal food, products and services from local and international companies.

Last year, Ampuan shared that there are 15 Malaysian and 19 Indonesian investors who participated in the expo. The Indonesian's booth won as the most visited spot last year.

Ampuan said that the first expo had a "very positive impact" as the Philippine Halal products and services gained international exposure resulting to a growing interest of the country's halal products and services.

"On the gains of last year's expo, foreign exhibitors responded positively, in fact, they requested after the event to stage this event again," she said.

Last year's event was also able to feature the Mindanao launch of Philippine Halal Tourism Project, Davao City Halal Industrial Development Council, showcasing of Philippine Halal destinations, among others.