SAPPORO - Eager to attract more Muslim tourists, Japan's Hokkaido Island wants to work with Malaysia's Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) to make its capital Sapporo more "Muslim-friendly".
Nozomi Ota, who heads Sapporo's Developing Local Cuisines in Observance with the Cultures of Muslim Tourists project, said the city had begun to make changes to accommodate Muslim travellers by building more prayer rooms and publishing a list of halal restaurants.
"We hope travellers can enjoy our food in Sapporo and feel safe. We will work with the HDC and fly some people to Malaysia to learn about the halal food," she told reporters in Chuo-ku here recently.
About 30 restaurants serving Japanese style food have been approved by the local government as being safe for Muslims and are accessible on the website http://www.sapporo-muslim.info/restaurant/index_en.html.
Ota and her team have been working with halal industries in Indonesia to tap the Muslim market in South-East Asia..
There were 28,500 Malaysian tourists visiting Japan in December 2013, up 65.5 per cent from the previous year.
AirAsia flight D7 550 will fly from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo at 11.35pm every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and arrive at 8.10am on the following day. It will depart an hour later and arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 5pm.
To celebrate its inaugural flight, AirAsia X is offering promotional all-in-fares for one way trip starting from RM349 (S$118) for standard seats or RM1,299 for the premium flatbed seats. The fares will be available for online booking until Oct 18 for the travel period between Oct 2 and Jan 3 next year.