Philippines Takes A Bite of Halal Tourism Market

Report from Maida Pineda in Manila

Filipinos are known for their true sense of hospitality. The first question they ask guests is “Kumain ka na?” (Have you eaten?). Less than a year ago, the Department of Tourism (DOT) moved forward also with Muslim travellers. They decided to just stop talking about Halal food and do something about it. In less than 100 days, the DOT worked with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), Halal International Chamber of Commerce and Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (HICCIP) and CrescentRating to prepare facilities of 43 hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other tourism-related establishments in Manila, Cebu, Boracay, Davao, Bohol, Zamboanga City, General Santos City, Koronadal, Cotobato City, Surigao City, and Siargao Island to be halal certified.

This Philippine Halal Tourism Project was launched at Madrid Fusion Manila last April 7. Outgoing Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said, “The best and most important welcome to the visitors is with food. And if you are not halal, then there is a very important segment of society in the world that you are not extending a proper welcome to.”

Aiming to cater to a larger slice of the global Halal Tourism market, the DOT commits to serving the needs this segment of tourists. Based on CrescentRating data, the 117 Million Muslim travellers are expected to rise to 168 Million by 2020.

“The Philippines is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that is determined to be part of the 20% to 25% of the $200 billion global Halal market in 2020. The market is already there, with arrivals from Malaysia  growing at a double-digit rate to our country. The only thing that is now requested is additional capacity,” added Jimenez.

The NCMF estimates 10 Million Muslim Filipinos, plus another 565,000 foreign travellers -calculated from arrivals from Halal-conscious markets or markets with special dietary needs – make up the base market for Halal services in the Philippines. Of this 2015 figure, these tourist arrivals come from the following countries: Singapore 181, 176, Malaysia 155,814, Middle East 78, 480, India 74,824, Indonesia 48, 178, Israel 11,756, Brunei 9,015, and Turkey 6,026.

Of the 43 Halal-certified establishments, these include global hospitality brands such as Dusit, Marco Polo, Marriott, Radisson, and Shangri-La properties. According to Art Boncato, Assistant Secretary of DOT, “We have recognized a total of 43 properties registered with the project. Our target is 50, which we expect to announce in the short term. We gave Halal Certificates to 16 establishments during the program for those
who have fully complied with the requirements, completed the orientation, assessment, final audit, and staff seminar.” The Philippine Halal Tourism Project is definitely taking off…