Taiwan keen on encouraging more Muslim tourists from Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Taiwan is keen on encouraging more Malaysians especially Muslims to visit the island republic as it continues to expand its halal hub facilities throughout the country.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia representative James Chang Chi-ping said presently there are 150 restaurants and hotels that are certified by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) in Taiwan.

“In an effort to promote more Malaysian Muslims to visit Taiwan, we are continuing to work with Jakim and they have since certified around 800 Taiwanese products comprising of food and cosmetics with many other products pending review and certification,” he told reporters after officiating the MEET Taiwan networking session with local and Taiwan Tourism Agencies at the Berjaya Times Square, here, today.

Chang said this year marked MEET Taiwan’s fifth consecutive year in the country aimed at further developing bilateral relations between both countries.

“This year Taiwan is promoting itself as the global destination for the MICE (meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition) market with hundreds and thousands of visitors arriving each year for business activities,” he said.

As such, he called on Muslim entrepreneurs and corporations to conduct their MICE activities in the country as its facilities are well suited and cater to the community.

“Our exhibition centres, conference buildings and train stations are equipped with prayers rooms for the Muslims. Muslim travellers need not worry when getting halal food as an app is available which gives the location of halal hubs throughout the country,” he said.

The increase in halal facilities in Taiwan, he said is proven when Taiwan ranked fifth in the latest Global Muslim Travel index (GMTI) under the non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) category for the first time this year.

“That is an improvement of two places from last year. In the GMTI’s general category, Taiwan rose to 27th position this year from 33 in 2017.

“The significant improvement is a clear indication of Taiwan’s commitment to becoming a Muslim friendly travel destination,” he said.

In Asean, he said Malaysia has the most number of tourists visiting Taiwan with 528,000 out of the 2.13 million visitors in South East Asia.

Chang said it foresees the number of tourists from Malaysia visiting Taiwan to increase with a significant double-digit growth.

“In 2016 the number of Malaysian tourists were 474,000 while the year before saw 430,000 tourists.

“Of the total tourists, one-tenth are Muslims. More Muslims will arrive if we continue to expand a more halal-friendly environment for them. As such, we encourage more restaurants and hotels to get the certification from Jakim,” Chang said.

In line with this year’s theme “High Five Taiwan”, the MEET Taiwan initiative which promotes MICE efforts by providing travel incentive promotions is already ongoing with Nestle Malaysia among the first local company to select the country as its incentive travel destination.

The MEET Taiwan initiative which is organised by the Bureau of Foreign Trade and Taiwan External Trade Development Council (Taitra) and the Taiwan Trade Centre of Kuala Lumpur will also see companies that sign up under the initiative participate in the Asia Super Team: Dare for Future event.

The cross-border contest is expected to attract teams from eight countries including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The preliminaries will be held online and selected finalists will head to Taiwan for the live competition which sees the winning company getting US$50,000 (RM201,900) in travel rewards. (The Sun Daily)