WITH the global market value for the halal industry is expected to double from $3.2 trillion to $6.4 trillion by 2018, major tourism players have been urged to seize opportunities offered by the growing halal industry.
The Department of Tourism (DOT), with the National Commission on Muslim Filipino (NCMF) and other stakeholders, are now gearing up to step up promotion and integration of halal industry through the Philippine Halal Tourism Project which will be implemented starting this year.
Merriam-webster, at www.merriam-webster.com, defines halal as something that is "sanctioned by Islamic law" or is the "selling or serving food ritually fit according to Islamic law."
"Halal industry is considered as the fastest growing tourism segment in the world. Tourism potential in Muslim is very huge and we have to tap that," Roberto P. Alabado III, DOT Davao director, said in Wednesday's media forum at Abreeza Mall.
The project, which officially started through a halal orientation last Tuesday at the Marco Polo Hotel-Davao will look into the whole halal ecosystem from food, travel, lifestyle and finances.
The Tourism department is targeting 50 industry players to be tapped nationwide to adopt halal principles and concepts in their businesses.
Of the figure, 10 will be in Davao, 20 in Manila, 10 in Cebu, and 10 in Boracay. These are the identified key areas where Muslim tourists will potentially visit.
"The government's priority commitment and thrust now is to tap the major players of the tourism industry, like hotels and restaurants to be encouraged, oriented and adopt halal in their own business because these establishments are essential to welcome and lure Muslim tourists, they are considered to be the front liners in the industry," Marilou W. Ampuan, chair of the Halal Committee of the Tourism Congress and founder of Mindanao Islamic Chamber of Commerce (MICC), said in a separate interview last Tuesday's roundtable discussion with reporters at the Dermpath, SM City Davao.
"With this, if one would want to be halal-certified, DOT will guide and assist them how to adopt with halal, because with our initial study a lot of players would want to embrace halal practices; however, the challenge is these players are not guided as to who will they tap to be certified, what are the requirements, and how much will it cost," Ampuan said.
Alabado explained that for Davao City only 10 establishments will be part of the project. The selected 10 establishments will free of charge with the halal accreditation and certification fees, provided with workshops and experts and will be assisted by the DOT in promoting their establishments as a halal destination.
"We gave all the interested players who wish to be part of the project to finally decide in a span of a week, because our target is by April these 10 establishments in the city shall be halal-accredited and certified," Alabado said, adding that some 13 players in Davao showed interest to be part of the project.
"For those who will not be included in the project still we commit to guide and assist them in order to be halal-accredited," he added.
As for the initial response of the 13 players who participated in the halal orientation Tuesday, players are concerned on to where they will supply halal products.
Meanwhile, DOT is tapping a Singapore-based halal accreditation body, Crescent, to look into the situation of Philippine establishments in relation to halal tourism.
Crescent rating is the world's leading authority on Muslim travel connecting an establishment to the Muslim tourists.
The rating will be based on the suitability of an establishment as holiday destination, family friendliness, safety with combined percent weight of 40 percent, Muslim friendly services and facilities availability (40 percent) and halal awareness and reach out to Muslims (20 percent).
With Crescent rating, an establishment will be considered as a Muslim destination worldwide.
To further promote halal industry and support the project, a three-day Philippine Halal Tourism Expo is set to be staged this coming April 22 to 24, 2016, at the Abreeza Mall-Davao.