With its Covid-19 travel restrictions lifted last month, Taiwan is hoping to establish itself as a holiday destination of choice for Muslim travellers.
Taiwan Tourism Bureau Kuala Lumpur Office’s Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei director Abe Chou said Taiwan was not typically a top-of-mind destination among Muslim travellers.
“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, about 530,000 Malaysians travelled to Taiwan, where less than an estimated 30% were Muslims.
“We hope to change that because at present, Taiwan has more than 200 halal-certified restaurants and eateries, scenic attractions and hotels equipped with prayer rooms and kiblat direction to cater to their religious needs.
“There are also Taiwanese tour guides who have been certified and trained by the Chinese Muslim Association to ensure they are familiar with the concerns and obligations of Muslim travellers.
“After receiving such training, the tour operators have a better grasp of the halal concept and this allows them to better serve Muslim tourists, including taking them to souvenir shops offering halal products,” he said in an interview.
Chou said October to December was one of the best periods to visit Taiwan, as there were many events lined up including its festive Christmas decorations and New Year’s Eve countdown.
He added that the Christmas decorations on display were more to create a festive atmosphere rather than a display of religious elements, making it fun for all to enjoy.
In 2018 and 2019, about 130,000 Malaysian tourists visited Taiwan in November and December alone, said Chou.
“Next year is also the lunar Year of the Rabbit, suitable for Muslim tourists to visit and enjoy the festivities from Feb 5 to 19.
“The bureau is currently working with Malaysian travel agencies to promote Muslim-friendly tourism and we want people to know that travelling to Taiwan can be a breeze and enjoyable while safeguarding their needs.
“The best bet is to book tours through legitimate travel agencies to avoid unnecessary hiccups,” he said, reassuring travellers that it was safe to visit Taiwan as the authorities had been managing the Covid-19 situation.
After a long period of Covid-19 travel restrictions, Taiwan finally ended its mandatory quarantines to control the spread of the virus.
It welcomed back visitors starting Oct 13.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Chinese Tourism Association Johor chapter chairman Edwin Tay said its members had received many enquiries since last month.
“This shows that the interest in Taiwan is still there and many of these travellers have already holidayed there previously.
“I urge our member agencies to come up with more attractive packages to give tourists a new experience upon their return,” he said, adding that the chapter also aimed to give more focus to halal tours next year.