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Are destinations & airlines becoming Muslim-friendly?

The Muslim travel industry and the halal food industry are two industries which are growing at a rapid rate. With the increasing demand for better Muslim travel facilities and halal food products many countries are making a huge effort in trying to capture this billion dollar market. Many countries are holding seminars in order to create awareness of the halal concept and to educate their local businesses and industries of the global opportunities available to them. With most Muslims traveling abroad at least once a year on vacation with their families, many countries are creating packages to suit their requirements. Several airlines too are making changes and providing better services to Muslim travelers.

Turkish airlines is one such airline; with some creative thinking they have come up with some innovative products for their passengers traveling to Makkah on umrah or hajj. Each passenger is given a kit containing a range of items which have been specially designed to provide maximum comfort to them during their flight and also at their destination. The airline has even won awards for these innovative kits. Both these specially designed kits were supplied by Formia, an international guest amenity and hospitality specialist. Another airline providing better facilities to Muslim travelers is Etihad. The luxury travel market has been taken over by the Middle Eastern carriers, with Ethihad launching A380 and B787 providing travelers with a luxurious flying hotel called the ‘residence’. These flights also offer a designated prayer area and include an electronic qibla finder, showing the exact direction of Makkah, based on the aircrafts location.

Until recently Muslim travel mostly consisted of Muslims visiting makkah on pilgrimage or the jet setting emirs traveling in their private planes to various locations around the globe. But the last few years has seen a change in Muslim travel as more and more Muslims are visiting destinations like ChinaJapanThailandMexicoBrazil and many more in the pursuit of leisure. Most countries are aware of this sudden surge in Muslim travelers wanting to visit their countries and have been busy finding ways to make the destination halal- friendly in order to capture this growing market. Of utmost importance is providing halal food. Japans biggest airline has teamed up with a Malaysian halal caterer to completely change its menu to meet the dietary requirements of its Muslim travelersMalaysia is one of the pioneers in producing, certifying and distributing halal food, and it is home to one of the world’s biggest in-flight meal provider, Brahims Holdings Bhd. This company has managed to make a deal with ANA to help them create halal Japanese cuisine to be served on the flight. Especially with the large number of Southeast Asians travelling to Japan after the government relaxed its visa requirements, the country is working towards providing better facilities to these tourists as Southeast Asia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world. Japan has made the greatest effort compared to other countries in providing Muslim friendly facilities, with providing prayer rooms at some of their airports, to publishing travel guides for Muslim tourists and even marking the qibla direction in certain hotels. As for halal food in the country, there are two organizations granting halal certificates, the Japan Halal Association is one of them. The city of Chiba in Japan is aiming at becoming its Muslim cultural center. The city even has a mall with prayer facilities for Muslims.