Availability of Halal food is key factor for attracting Muslim travelers: survey

Availability of Halal food is key factor for attracting Muslim travelers: survey

A graph showing a survey on Okinawa Prefecture's hospitality toward Muslim travelers.

June 11, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

All overseas Muslims who participated in a survey by the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB) said that the availability of Halal food is an important factor to consider when traveling. The survey highlights the significance of dietary restrictions on items such as pork and alcohol for Muslim travelers, the OCVB said.

The OCVB, which finished compiling the results of the survey on June 10, aims to use the findings to improve hospitality and support for travelers from Islamic countries.

The OCVB conducted the survey between September and October 2014, collecting a total of 442 responses from Muslims living outside Japan, overseas travel agencies, travelers to Okinawa Prefecture, residents of the prefecture, and local tourism industry employees.

Overseas Muslims included in the survey mainly lived in areas that are part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. All of the respondents said the “display of the list of ingredients of food and beverage products” was “very important” or “important.” In addition, 99% said it was important for them to know whether food items had Halal certification or not when considering travels to Japan.

Other key items included access to “places of worship” at 98%, “places for purification of the body before prayers” at 95%, and availability of “rental prayer mats and the Koran” at 94%.

Asked what would be the deciding factor for selecting travel destinations, 71% said “price,” followed by “food” (42%), “climate and seasons” (40%) and “history and culture” (40%).

When travelers from Muslim regions were asked about their satisfaction level with Okinawa’s hospitality, more than half said they were “satisfied” with factors such as the availability of places of worship, prayer mats and the Koran. But only 45% said Okinawa had “dishes that are considerate to Halal” and only 36% said they were satisfied with the “display of the lists of food ingredients,” which leaves room for improvement in food-related areas.

A survey of tourism industry personnel in the prefecture showed only 19% said they had experience in dealing with Muslim travelers. Asked if they want to attract more of them, 36% said “yes,” “30% said “don’t know,” and 26% said “no.” Asked about why they want to accept more Muslim travelers, those who responded positively mostly said doing so would allow them to “cultivate a new market.” (96%)

Details of the survey can be found at the website for Okinawa tourism (http://www.visitokinawa.jp/oin/).

(English translation by T&CT and Scott Murphy)

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