9 June 2015
In response to the Government’s strategy to position Thailand as a Muslim-friendly destination, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will launch its first smartphone application designed specifically to make it easier for Muslim visitors to find Muslim-friendly products, services, and facilities across Thailand.
To be launched on 22 June 2015, the app for IOS and Android will be both an online and offline guidebook that will help Muslim visitors find mosques, halal restaurants and hotels, shopping centers with prayer rooms, and other facilities around the country. It will initially be in Thai and English, and will later be expanded to include Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia, as well.
TAT has also produced guidebooks and brochures to help Muslim visitors, such as "Halal Check-in Thailand, which contains a list of halal certified restaurants and Islamic attractions in the southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat.
The "Muslim-Friendly Destination” is a pilot project to welcome more Muslim visitors to Thailand. TAT realizes the potential and readiness of Thailand to promote this market. Thailand is already the top destination in Asia for Middle East travelers. Among destinations that are not Muslim countries, it is ranked second in the world by the Global Muslim Travel Index.
At present, the population of Muslims worldwide is estimated at 1.6 billion, or about one in four of the total world population. The Muslim population in the ASEAN region is about 240 million, a significantly large and growing market, especially from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam. The potential will rise further after the ASEAN Community is launched at the end of 2015.
As such, Thailand has great potential to serve this market, in which there is a whole new generation of young Muslim Thais emerging nationwide. They will seek promising opportunities in the tourism sector in the future.
Acting TAT Governor Juthaporn Rerngronasa said that the number of Muslim visitors from ASEAN neighbors is expected to increase significantly, especially in southern Thailand. TAT also aims to attract Muslim families to spend the Holy Month of Ramadan in Thailand, especially in some southern provinces, such as Phuket, which is gearing up to be a halal food center, and Krabi, which is positioning itself as a "Dream Destination for Muslims.”
According to TAT, other target markets, such as India, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Kuwait), Egypt, Iran, and North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria) are also very attractive markets in this category. Although the Asia-Pacific region is a major destination for Muslim tourists, led by Malaysia and Indonesia, there are still a lot of opportunities for Thailand to tap the market.
A lot of new products are emerging to cater to the market, such as a leading halal hotel scheduled to open in October 2015 in Bangkok, and quality halal restaurants in the major tourist cities, especially in the southern provinces, as well as the promotion of "Halal Lanna” food in the northern provinces.