TOKYO – Japan’s efforts to offer Muslim-friendly services in its airports, hotels and restaurants are expected to pay off soon with the number of one million Muslims expected to visit the far-east country by 2020.
"The main drivers are the lifting of visa requirements for ASEAN countries and the increasing awareness of the halal travel market's potential by Japan's travel industry," CrescentRating chief executive Fazal Bahardeen, who will speak at travel conference in Tokyo next Monday, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Saturday, August 2.
Singapore-based CrescentRating, which promotes "halal" or Islam-compliant travel, said Southeast Asia would be a key source for Muslim tourists after Tokyo eased visa requirements.
Muslim visitor arrivals in Japan grew at an average of 7.2 percent from 2004-2013.
According the CrescentRating, this pace is likely to accelerate to an average 18.7 percent in the next seven years.
Fazal said there was still a lot of room for growth of Muslim tourism in Japan but it "needs to continue to ensure that a steady growth of services and facilities are made available for the Muslim travelers".
The boost was seen as a direct result of moves taken by Japan to turn its airports to be friendly to Muslim visitors by offering prayer room and spaces for ablution or wudoo.
The steps were announced amid plans to show the heart of Japanese hospitality as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
The new steps followed Japan’s decision to relax the rules for issuance to visas to visitors from Indonesia, Malaysia and three other Southeast Asian nations in July.
"A positive move by Japan last year was to introduce visa exemptions for some 66 nations, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, each with Muslim populations," Karun Budhraja, vice president for corporate marketing and communications at travel booking and technology firm Amadeus Asia Pacific, told AFP.
Fazal said expenditure by Muslim travelers globally is expected to reach $200 billion by 2020, or 13.5 percent of the global total, up from $140 billion in 2013.
Islam began in Japan in the 1920s through the immigration of a few hundreds of Turkish Muslims from Russia following the Russian revolution.
In 1930, the number of Muslims in Japan reached about 1000 of different origins.
Another wave of migrants who boosted the Muslim population reached its peak in the 1980s, along with migrant workers from Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Japan today is home to a thriving Muslim community of about 120,000, among nearly 127 million in the world's tenth most populated country.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
We are not responsible for the content of external internet sites