KUALA LUMPUR: Restaurateurs and those involved in the food industry should offer halal fare in their menus due to the rising demand from the Muslim tourism market, says Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
He said being a Muslim country, Malaysia was already known as a top tourism attraction for Muslim tourists. Restaurant operators, he added, should tap the Muslim market by offering more Muslim food.
“Sixty-five percent of Malaysians are Muslims and businessmen will lose that market, which is big, if their restaurants are non-halal.
“Restaurants operated by non-Muslims should also strive to be halal in order to keep up with rising market demands,” he told reporters after giving a keynote address at the opening of a joint seminar on Islamic tourism here yesterday.
Nazri said in the past, hotels used to have two kitchens, one halal and the other non-halal, which were a waste of resources.
“But now almost all restaurants are halal in the country.
“This provides a sense of security for Muslim tourists when they dine out in Malaysia,” he said.
Nazri also said there might not be a need for halal restaurants to place halal signs in their restaurant doors in order to promote Malaysia as a top Muslim-friendly holiday destination.
“Non-Muslim restaurants may have to place signs that their restaurants are non-halal,” he added.
Earlier in his speech, Nazri said Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia should jointly capitalise on the increasing trend of Muslim visitors in the region.
For Malaysia, he said Muslim visitors would make up 25% of the total tourist arrivals this year.
“We are expecting six million Muslim tourist arrivals this year.
“With increased consumer knowledge and preference for Muslim or halal travel, this niche can no longer be ignored. It has become a huge business,” he said.
Nazri said non-Muslim countries such as Japan and Australia were also tapping the Muslim tourism market by developing facilities to attract Muslim tourists to their countries.
“Last year, Australia even introduced special Muslim packages during Ramadan in the Gold Coast,” he added.