Say the phrase ‘halal tourism’ to most people and they may be able to give you a couple of lines about what it means, but their understanding of what halal visitors need when they are touring countries may not be as clear.
At the second annual Halal Tourism and Hospitality Symposium held in Auckland recently, there were several suggestions on how tourism operators could better accommodate and attract halal visitors.
That was the aim of this symposium – an opportunity for those involved in the tourism sector in New Zealand to come together to hear from those who are operating in this area to answer our questions and tell us their stories.
I freely admit that I didn’t know much about halal tourism before attending the event, but I became convinced that this is a tourism market that Māori tourism operators could easily attract with just a few small changes to make Muslim visitors feel at ease while in New Zealand.
In 2012, it is estimated that global Muslim spending on tourism was US$137 billion – and it is only going to increase.
Travel is very important to Muslims, but very few tourism businesses have been willing to learn how to make travel for halal visitors just that little bit easier.
Indonesia and Malaysia are two of New Zealand’s biggest halal markets.
For accommodation providers, it was suggested to have simple things such as a small sign with an arrow pointing to the direction of Mecca in the room – so that visitors knew which way to face when they prayed. Removing the alcohol selection from the minibar was another suggestion.
Knowing the location of the nearest mosque to so you can direct your halal visitors there is also much appreciated. Times for prayer in New Zealand to give to your guests can be downloaded from the FIANZ website.
The way that Qualmark is a sign of excellent service and facilities, so is halal certification for visitors looking for activities, accommodation and eateries that are Muslim-friendly. Halal certification is offered by FIANZ – they also offer advice for those who are looking to become halal certified.
Most people know that Muslims do not drink alcohol, or consume food that has been cooked with alcohol. They do not consume anything that has used pork products. All other meat must be halal.
But did you know that all seafood is considered halal? Imagine the culinary treats that our halal visitors could try here – paua, kina, eel, fish, cockles, mussels – the list goes on. Unfortunately though, for a long time those who catered for halal visitors generally had two things on the menu – kebabs and curries.
Halal visitors would love to be able to try our fantastic seafood and meats that we have on offer here – all it takes is a couple of small changes in the kitchen (for example, not using alcohol during cooking, and making sure that all meat has been purchased from a halal-certified butcher). Some places even do a ‘halal hangi’ for their Muslim guests. Many would salivate over a halal-prepared roast lamb with all the trimmings!
Halal visitors want the same things that most visitors do – unique experiences. They want the opportunity to meet locals to learn about their history and way of life.
Principles of Islam are very similar to Māori – respecting the earth and the sea. Thanking them for sharing their bounty with us, and only taking that which we need. The similarities form a strong foundation for shared tourism experiences. The opportunities exist – and NZ Māori Tourism will be working alongside FIANZ to ensure that our members and halal visitors to New Zealand make the most of them.
If your business is interested in becoming halal certified, please contact FIANZ at http://www.fianz.co.nz/halal-certificate
Communications Advisor Amy Hodgkinson attended the 2nd Annual Halal Tourism & Hospitality Symposium in Auckland recently.
To contact the people/businesses above:
FIANZ (Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand)
Ground Floor, 7-11 Queens Drive, Kilbirnie, Wellington or http://www.fianz.co.nz/contact or Ph 04 387 8023