The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) presented Japan as a destination for gastronomy (food) tourism at the 7th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism held in Nara from December 12 to 15. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines gastronomy tourism as a type of tourism activity that is characterized by the visitor’s experience linked with food and related products and activities while traveling.
Japan is known for its diverse and delicious culinary culture, and it has long been a popular destination for food lovers from all over the world. But can Japan attract Muslim tourists as a gastronomic tourism destination? That might be a HUGE question mark for it.
Japan has a small but growing number of Halal-certified restaurants and food businesses, and there are also several Muslim-friendly tour operators that offer Halal-friendly travel packages to Japan. These resources can make it easier for Muslim tourists to find Halal food options and plan their travels in Japan.
In addition, Japan is home to a number of traditional dishes that are already compliant with Halal guidelines, such as sushi, udon noodles, and tempura. Many Japanese restaurants also offer vegetarian options that can be suitable for Muslims.
To further attract Muslim tourists as a gastronomic tourism destination, Japan could consider promoting its Halal-friendly dining options and working to increase the availability of Halal food options at restaurants and other food businesses throughout the country. This could involve providing training and support to existing restaurants and food businesses to help them meet Halal standards or working with new Halal-certified businesses to establish a presence in Japan.
What Should Japan Do To Attract Muslim Tourists?
The following is a tentative list of ideas for promoting Japan as a gastronomic tourism destination for Muslim travelers:
- Host halal food festivals: Japan could host halal food festivals to showcase the country’s diverse and delicious halal cuisine. These festivals could feature halal-certified restaurants and food businesses, cooking demonstrations, and cultural performances.
- Develop halal-certified food tours: Japan could develop food tours specifically designed for Muslim travelers, featuring halal-certified restaurants and food businesses. These tours could also include cultural experiences and sightseeing to give tourists a well-rounded taste of Japan.
- Promote halal-friendly dining options on travel websites and social media: Japan could promote its halal-friendly dining options on travel websites and social media platforms to attract Muslim travelers. This could include creating a list of halal-certified restaurants and food businesses or highlighting the availability of halal options at popular tourist destinations.
- Collaborate with halal-certified food producers: Japan could work with halal-certified food producers to create specialty products for Muslim travelers, such as halal-certified snack boxes or souvenir food items. These products could be sold at tourist shops, airports, or online.
- Offer halal-friendly accommodation options: Japan could work with hotels and guesthouses to offer halal-friendly accommodation options, such as rooms with prayer mats and Qurans, or halal-certified in-room dining options.
Challenges Muslims Face Visiting Japan
Muslim tourists visiting Japan face the following challenges.
- Finding halal food options: While Japan has a growing number of halal-certified restaurants and food businesses, they may not be widely available in all areas of the country. Muslim travelers may need to plan ahead and research their options before arriving in Japan.
- Limited availability of halal-certified products: While it is possible to find halal-certified products in Japan, they may be limited in availability and may be more expensive than non-halal options.
- Limited availability of prayer facilities: While there are a few mosques and prayer facilities in Japan, they may not be widely available in all areas of the country. Muslim travelers may need to plan ahead and research their options before arriving in Japan.
- Language barriers: Japan has a unique language and culture, and many people in Japan may not speak English. This can make it challenging for Muslim travelers to communicate their needs and find information about halal options.
- Stereotypes and discrimination: Unfortunately, there are still some negative stereotypes and prejudices about Muslims in Japan, and Muslim travelers may face discrimination or ignorance while traveling in the country.
Japan’s unique culinary culture and focus on quality ingredients make it an appealing destination for food lovers of all types. By embracing its Halal-friendly dining options and working to increase the availability of Halal food options, Japan has the potential to attract an even wider range of tourists and become a top destination for Muslim travelers.
By implementing these and other strategies, Japan could effectively promote itself as a gastronomic tourism destination for Muslim travelers and attract a new market of tourists to the country.