TAT seeking to attract additional Muslim tourists

TAT seeking to attract additional Muslim tourists

With the continuation of the European Union’s (EU) economic woes, and the possible decrease in the number of European tourists to Thailand, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is strongly encouraging tourism operators to attract additional Muslim tourists.

The worldwide Muslim population is currently 1.6 billion, comprising 23 percent of the population. By 2030, projected estimates show that the Muslim population will rise to 2.2 billion, or 26.4 percent of the global population.

Although Muslim tourists to Thailand increased 7.6 percent in 2013 (2.01 million Muslims), TAT believes Muslims represent a relatively untapped tourist market. Wooing Muslim visitors is considered very important now to offset the decline of some European tourism markets.

DinarStandard, a research and advisory firm, said the top destinations for Muslim tourists are Malaysia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Russia, China, Thailand and Italy.

From June 3-5, the TAT will hold the Thailand Travel Mart 2015. They plan to invite approximately 100 tour agents and Muslim-related media to attend the event, which will host workshops, forums and presentations. Planners of the exhibition will also create travel opportunities for attendees to certain Thai locations and sites.

Thailand Well Prepared for Muslim Tourists

Muslims make up approximately 6 percent of Thailand’s native population, living mostly in the southern provinces. As such, halal food in markets and restaurants is readily available, as are mosques and accommodations specializing in serving Muslim guests.

The TAT’s Deputy Governor for International Marketing, Juthaporn Rerngronasa, wants to send a clear message that Thailand is well prepared for Muslim visitors She believes Muslim tourists will be most interested in shopping, theme parks and medical tourism. In addition, Ms. Juthaporn wants to educate them about the Thai Muslim communities in the south, including the provinces of Krabi and Ayutthaya.

Krabi Province, on the southwest coast of the Andaman Sea is already a favorite place for visiting Muslim families. Muslim and non-Muslim members of the tourism industry in Krabi are very familiar with Muslim dietary requirements. In fact, most restaurants and food stands display signs in Arabic stating their food is properly prepared in accordance with Islamic law.

Most restaurants, however, do serve alcohol, as Krabi attracts tourists from all over the world. This does not present a problem, as Thai Muslims are tolerant and pragmatic.

Thailand, which has long been one of the most popular travel destinations for Israelis, is also seeking to attract even more tourists from Israel.

Wisoot Buachoom, TAT’s Chiang Mai Director, recently told the New York Times that, “We live in a country that is open and pretty liberal. I can’t think of a market that we wouldn’t welcome.”

Muslims, who may not feel comfortable traveling to other countries in the region where anti-Muslim feelings exist, should feel right at home in Thailand, “The Land of Smiles”