Japan is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Muslim travellers. In a bid to attract larger numbers of Muslim travellers, Japan is restructuring its tourist industry in order to better serve the specific needs of Muslims.
The importance of the Muslim travel market segment is being realised by numerous countries around the world, with many deciding to embrace Halal tourism. One such country is Japan. Japan was visited by over 300,000 Muslim travellers in 2013 and visitor numbers are expected to soar to over a million yearly Muslim visitors by the year 2020. A large majority of visits come from South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore and account for around 65% of all Muslim visitors to Japan.
To meet the growing demand for Halal facilities, Japan has been implementing steps to upgrade its prayer facilities, Halal food availability and other travel-related services for Muslims. Earlier this month, Japan eased visa requirements for travellers from South East Asian countries. With increased awareness, local businesses and firms and Japan are gradually shifting their approach to cater to the Muslim travel market.
Halal food is being introduced in more universities in Japan to cater to Muslim students. With better food facilities for Muslim students, the Japanese Government intends to increase the number of foreign students visiting Japan for education. Over 7,000 Muslim students are presently studying in Japan and numbers are expected to rise following the increased availability of facilities.
Being the host nation of the 2020 Olympics, Japan is expected to see a sharp boost in tourism in the near future. Over 20 million tourist visits are expected during that year, with over 1 million visits from Muslim travellers.
Japan itself is home to around only 70,000 – 100,000 Muslims, of which 10% are native Japanese while the other 90% are resident foreigners in Japan. The modern history of Islam in Japan dates back to the late 19th century when contact was made with Indonesians who served on British and Dutch ships. Later in the 1870s, the translation of the life of Prophet Muhammad into Japanese greatly helped Islam spread across the country.
Japan’s Muslim traveller visits have seen a 7.2 percent increase from 2004-2013 and is expected to grow further at an average of 18.7 percent over the course of the next few years. With the newly added facilities and enhanced services for Muslim travellers, Japan is on its way to becoming a key destination for Muslims.