Manila: – The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Manila said it will be providing incentives for 50 restaurants in the Philippines being tapped to go halal-friendly this year.
“We are targeting at least 50 establishments to be halal-certified and to be introduced during the second edition of Madrid Fusion here in Manila on April 7,” DOT Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato Jr. said in a forum in Pasay City.
“This requires some level of input from them in terms of investment but the incentive of the DOT is that we will cover the halal-certification fees for one year which is a good time for them to build on their targeted markets,” he added.
Madrid Fusion Manila is the biggest culinary event in the Philippines and Southeast Asia which brings together the best local and international chefs to discuss and learn more about food and cooking.
“We hope that when Madrid Fusion opens we will have a halal section there introducing the new halal-certified establishments,” Boncato said.
The DOT official said that this boost in culinary tourism is part of the department’s Philippine Halal-Tourism Project which is meant to make the country a more Muslim-friendly destination.
“(We are) improving our competitiveness in serving Muslim markets through an increase in the number of halal-certified tourism establishments,” he said.
Pilot establishments being tapped to apply for halal certification will be restaurants in various hotels, resorts, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) facilities in Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Boracay.
However, Boncato noted that as halal certification moves on, having more sections of properties to be certified will come next.
In 2015, Boncato met with Crescent Rating Pte. Ltd. of Singapore CEO Fazal Bahardeen. Crescent Rating is the globally recognized independent rating and accreditation standard for Muslim-friendly travel services.
He said that DOT will coordinate with Crescent Rating to build content for a set of guidelines for the Muslim traveling market.
“Hopefully by April, we will have these guidelines launched. We are doing our best to have a good number of halal-certified establishments in the Philippines,” Boncato said.
Crescent Rating also publishes the annual Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) that ranks over 100 destinations according to the Muslim-friendliness of people, facilities, and services. The Philippines currently ranks 47th on the GMTI.
“The Philippines recognizes the huge growth in Muslim global travel for the past decade with 25-million traveling in 2010, around 108-million in 2014, and expected to be 150-million by 2015,” Boncato said.
“In the Philippines alone, 10 million Muslim Filipinos form part of the 54 million domestic travelers in 2014. This upward trend in Muslim travel only means we need to prepare for their visit and we must ensure that the halal value chain in the country becomes a sustainable reality,” he added.
Originally published on www.mb.com.ph