CAIRO - Seeking a share in an expected boom in the number of Muslim holidaymakers, New Zealand has issued a halal tourism guide that focuses on fulfilling the needs of Muslim travelers.
"The Muslim tourism market presents an enormous opportunity for the New Zealand industry," Tony Everitt, Tourism New Zealand's general manager of Asian markets, told New Zealand Herald on Monday, October 1.
But Muslim travelers do have specific requirements, particularly in relation to food, space and facilities.
The new guide, issued by Tourism New Zealand and Christchurch International Airport, was introduced to meet the needs of Muslim travelers.
It includes a list of halal-classified restaurants and cafes, halal-certified to those offering vegetarian dishes or vegan cuisine.
The halal restaurants in the guide are divided into two lists for North Island and South Island.
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.
The south-pacific island country of New Zealand is home to 36,000 Muslims, according to the 2006 census.
The new guide comes amid expectations of a major rise in Muslim tourists' expenditure by more than 13 percent of global tourism expenditure by 2020.
"Tourism New Zealand is committed to further enhancing New Zealand's position as a visitor destination in emerging Halal markets," Everitt said.
This guide is about supporting the delivery of a quality visitor experience for travelers once they are here.
A recent study by Singapore-based halal travel specialist Crescentrating and DinarStandard, a US-based firm that tracks the Muslim lifestyle market, predicted that the number of Muslim holidaymakers will increase in the next decade.
The study, conducted in 47 countries, found that spending by Muslim tourists is growing faster than the global rate and is forecast to reach $192 billion a year by 2020, up from $126 billion in 2011.
Christchurch Airport spokesperson Matthew Findlay said the numbers of Muslim tourists were on the rise, citing figures from last month, which showed the number of Indonesian travelers were 141per cent higher than August 2011.
Those Muslim travelers were eager to come to New Zealand to experience things like the stunning scenery.
"We know Muslim travelers want to experience the South Island, he said."This guide also assures them they can find the food they prefer while they are here."