Thailand looking to attract more Muslim tourists
BANGKOK, (NNT) – Thailand is hoping to attract more Muslim tourists as they are seen to be a growing segment in the tourism industry, especially within the ASEAN Economic Community, which is set to be launched in 2015. At that time there will be many more Muslim tourists expected to visit.
There are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world, which represents 23% of the global population and that number is expected to increase in 2020, when the percentage of the Muslim global population will increase to 25%. In addition, approximately 20% of Muslims worldwide live in Asia, mostly in Indonesia, so it is an coveted market. Muslim tourism may be considered a niche market, but the annual total spent by Muslims tourists is approximately USD$126.1 billion in 2011 with an annual increase of 4.8%
Thailand is ranked as the 8th popular destination for Muslims. Those who find Thailand popular are people from Malaysia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Russia, China, France, Thailand and Italy respectively.
The initiation of AEC will present an opportunity for Thailand to become an even more popular tourist destination for Muslims, especially Muslims in Indonesia due to the short travel time from there, which is only about 3 hours. In past years, about 200,000 Indonesian tourists have traveled to Thailand annually and this should increase after the AEC is initiated in 2015.
The breadth of available halal food is also one of key elements to help promoting Muslim tourism in Thailand. Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia are major importers of Thai’s halal products. Since the strength of the agricultural sector in Thailand is having a high quality standard, this helps bolster the halal food industry.
Moreover, Thailand also can facilitate Muslim tourists as, as there are Indonesian Bahasa language tour-guides, as well as halal food and restaurants, spas and prayer room at various places in order to serve Muslims’ needs.