More Muslim-friendly destinations eyed

AS entirely Halal-certified tourism destinations in Mindanao may not be immediately possible, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is currently looking into improving and putting up more Muslim-friendly destinations.

“We now target destinations first that are friendly for Muslims tourists. It is “Muslim-friendly” because we cannot strictly follow Halal per se because when we call a destination Halal, everything about it should really be Halal from the financing, services, to food – everything should be Halal,” said Tourism assistant secretary Eden David during the weekly press conference at Habi at Kape, Abreeza Ayala Malls last Wednesday, February 7.

She added to make sure that the tourism establishment is Muslim-friendly, they make sure to comply with the basic requirements such as providing Qur’an in the prayer room facilities among others. For resorts and pools, the consideration of the Muslim customers’ wearing of burkini must also be put in place, not just the wearing of bikini for the non-Muslim women. Aside from that, an exclusive “ladies’ time” for swimming must also be implemented as well.

“All of the value chain, when it comes to Muslim-friendly tourist destinations, should be in place – from the point that they arrive at the airport, all of these necessary things are in place. Once they arrived, there should be signages, there should be a prayer room in the airport. There should even be a Halal restaurant in the airport,” David said.

She also said that restaurants and other food establishments found in airports and tourism destinations must already be Halal-certified and not Muslim-friendly as it is already food intake and must be very strict with the Halal implementation.

Currently, the country has 5 private Halal certifiers. While the final Halal standard is being finalized under the Department of Trade and Industry, these certifiers’ business permits had been extended to two years. In earlier interview with Tourism Congress Philippines (TCP) Halal Committee chairperson Marilou Ampuan, these certifiers include Islamic Dawah Council of the Philippines, Halal Development Institute of the Philippines, Mindanao Halal Authority, Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board, and the Halal International Chamber of Commerce.

“Our goal here is to ensure that our Muslim brothers will have an area that we are confident enough to say that this is Muslim-friendly, that they’ll be able to eat the food that is being served to them without worrying if it’s Halal or not, and always have an area where they can pray and observe their religion. It’s really about ensuring our tourists that what we have here is friendly to them,” David added.
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