KUALA LUMPUR – Catering to a growing number of Muslim tourists, a new Shari`ah-compliant hotel opened a few steps away from iconic Petronas Towers in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, becoming the first hotel in Malaysia to be halal certified.
“It’s like a normal hotel,” Ismail Hisham Ahmad Zambri, the general manager, told CNN.
In the new hotel, PNB Perdana, food is cooked strictly halal.
Non-Muslim guests are allowed to eat pork or drink alcohol in their rooms, which undergo a special cleaning process after checkout to make sure they are halal for the next occupant.
Males and females can mix at the hotel gym, but there is a dedicated time only for women between 9 pm. and 11 pm.
The halal certification, which witnessed drastic change in the number of applications, requires a rigorous approach from the hotel’s restaurants and kitchens.
It “covers all the halal product supply chains, from the ingredients, to the process, to the packaging and also the storage,” Sirajuddin Suhaimee, the director of an agency that grants the certifications to businesses, said.
The certificate is expected a good marketing tool for the hotel business, allowing it to draw a larger number of Muslim tourists.
The amount spent by Muslims on outbound travel is expected to climb from $151 billion in 2015 to $243 billion by 2021, according to a study released in October from Thomson Reuters.
The study ranked Malaysia’s halal travel industry as the second most developed in the world after that of the United Arab Emirates.
According to an earlier study by CrescentRating and MasterCard, a fast-growing, youthful and increasingly affluent Islamic population will boost the number of Muslim travelers by 39 percent to 150 million by 2020.
The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.