BANGKOK – Thailand has certified its “first fully halal hotel” to attract more Muslim tourists and boost its share of the halal tourism pie.
“Halal refers to the entire production process, including storage and the utensils and equipment used. A high standard in hygiene is essential,” the restaurant’s food and beverage manager, Saksit Sarovat, told Straits Times.
Al Meroz Hotel in Bangkok, which welcomes all tourists regardless of faith, is equipped with every facility a practicing Muslim could need. The hotel has a prayer room and separate swimming pools for men and women.
All the guestrooms are oriented towards Makkah, and women guests traveling alone can stay on one floor with female staff on duty.
The hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, Barakat, has a wide range of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and South Asian halal-certified dishes, meaning they adhere to Islamic dietary rules – no pork or pork by-products and no alcohol.
Moreover, poultry and other meats are processed according to halal requirements of slaughtering, hygiene, cleanliness, and taking care of animal rights before and during the slaughter procedure.
The halal certificate’s assurance of Al Meroz hotel, which enjoys an eye-catching Islamic architecture, is granted from the Central Islamic Council of Thailand (CICOT) in Bangkok.
On his behalf, the Executive chef Aphiruk Manaaphooa gives an example that “In place of red wine in the steak dishes, the grape mustard balsamic sauce is used and the halal bakery shuns gelatin, which is derived from animal protein, instead of using pectin from fibrous protein.”
Interest in Cash or Islam?
The Thai constitution doesn’t refer to any official state religion, though the country’s king is required by law to be Theravada Buddhist like 94.5% of the population.
While Thailand opens its first ‘fully-halal’ hotel in the capital Bangkok to attract more Muslim tourists from across the Islamic World which contains more than 60 countries in three continents, the Southeast Asian kingdom still occupies the Muslim country of Patani since the 1909’s Anglo-Siamese Treaty.
This ongoing 109-year occupation killed more than 6,500 Muslim Malays in Patani, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), something which puts the Thai new step in question.
On the other hand, the cash magnet scope is evident based on a report from CrescentRating, a leading consultancy on halal-friendly travel based in Singapore, which reports that the number of Muslim travelers totaled 117.7 million in 2017 and is expected to reach 168 million by 2020.
It’s also estimated that within the next four years, the spending power of Muslim tourists and travelers would amount to US$200 billion.
Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating, told Efe.com that one of the reasons for many countries interest in attracting Muslim tourists is due to the increased buying power of the middle class from the Arab/Persian Gulf countries, Turkey, Malaysia and as well Muslim communities in Europe and USA.
In a recent ranking conducted by this consultant, the best-value Muslim destination within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries for Muslim tourists was Malaysia, while Singapore was the best-value non-Muslim destination, followed by Thailand and the UK.