Taiwan is poised to become a premier destination for Muslim travelers, bolstered by cultural acceptance, halal-certified amenities, and rich agricultural experiences.
With its status as the seventh most sought-after non-IOC destination for Muslim tourists and a burgeoning halal ecosystem, Taiwan is carving out a niche in the global tourism industry. As a competitor to Singapore, the leading non-IOC destination for Muslim travelers, Taiwan is avidly promoting Muslim-friendly tour packages. Tony Wu, Director of the Kuala Lumpur-based Taiwan Tourism Bureau, shares that the island nation is making significant strides in catering to Muslim visitors.
A Halal-Friendly Ecosystem
The Taiwanese government, recognizing the potential of attracting a larger share of the global Muslim tourist market, has been proactive in creating an ecosystem that is inviting Muslim visitors. There are more than 100 halal eateries across Taiwan, with the aspiration of drawing in 100,000 Muslim tourists annually. This ambitious goal represents a fraction of the approximately 11.7 million Muslim tourists worldwide recorded in 2015, out of 117 million global tourists.
Globally, it’s projected that by 2020, there will be 168 million tourists traversing the globe, of which around 16 million are expected to be Muslims. This demographic is less exposed to international travel, partly due to religious constraints.
Ensuring the availability of religious facilities, Taiwan hosts mosques in major cities including Taipei, Zhongli City, Taichung City, Tainan City, and Kaohsiung City. The Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association, a member of the World Halal Food Council, plays a pivotal role in the halal certification process. Additionally, the Chinese Muslim Association in Taipei endorses halal products and eateries, and a dedicated mobile app, Halal Taiwan, serves as a guide for Muslim visitors.
Taiwan’s commitment to catering to Muslim travelers is reflected in its engagement with CrescentRating, a globally recognized independent rating system. This system assesses hotels and service providers based on their offerings to Muslim travelers, ranging from one to seven – with one being basic and seven denoting comprehensive services. According to Cheng Yieh Yen, a tour promoter, Taiwan’s vibrant culinary scene welcomes halal food options including Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Egyptian, Turkish, Indian, Thai, and Indonesian dishes. This allows Muslim tourists to relish both Taiwanese and familiar flavors.
Farm to Table – A Cultural Experience
One of the distinguishing offerings in Taiwan is the Muslim-friendly leisure farms fostered by the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association in collaboration with the Council of Agriculture and Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Among these is the Toucheng Leisure Farm in Yilan, sprawling across 120 hectares and equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity. The farm is accredited by the Chinese Muslim Association and boasts a halal kitchen restaurant and prayer room. The culinary team has undergone specialized halal cuisine training, and all ingredients are sourced from certified vendors. The accommodation facilities include prayer schedules and directions. Furthermore, the farm aligns with Islamic values by not rearing pigs and instead focusing on ducks and buffaloes, thus offering an immersive cultural experience.
As the Muslim demographic continues to hold sway in the Asia-Pacific region, destinations like Taiwan are diligently honing their offerings to meet the needs of this market segment. Through a mix of cultural adaptability, halal-certified amenities, and unique agricultural experiences, Taiwan is swiftly establishing itself as a halal haven for Muslim travelers seeking a blend of tradition and adventure. The proactive efforts by the Taiwanese government and private sector exemplify a model that could set precedence for other nations aiming to tap into the lucrative halal tourism market.