Taiwan touts itself as more Muslim-friendly with halal outlets

KUALA LUMPUR - With the introduction of more halal-certified restaurants and religious facilities, Taiwan has become more Muslim-friendly, says the island republic's tourism body.

Its Kuala Lumpur Bureau director Tsao E Shu attributed the fast-growing segment to the Taiwanese government's ongoing efforts over the last 10 years to court Muslim tourists.

"In respect of their faith, we want to ensure Muslims can holiday in Taiwan without worrying about food or where to do their prayers," he said at the MATTA headquarters here.

Tsao said there were now 81 halal-certified restauraunts, surau and ablution facilities at major tourist destinations in Taiwan.

Taiwan is one of the major players at the upcoming Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair at Putra World Trade Centre from March 11 to 13.

Tsao said the Taiwan Pavilion in Hall 1 would feature 20 booths manned by almost 100 members from 54 tour agencies.

"To give visitors a taste of Taiwan, we will have musical and cultural performances and food-tasting. This will highlight Taiwan's uniqueness and this is what sets it apart from neighbouring countries like China and Hong Kong," he added.

He said many of the tour packages would highlight the Lohas (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) concept - a philosophy to enjoy life at a slower pace with healthier activities that ensure a relaxing holiday.

"While most tourists tend to visit the capital Taipei first, South and East Taiwan provide an excellent cycling environment, with 1,400km of biking trail," he noted.

MATTA chief executive officer Phua Tai Neng said Malaysia accounted for the largest number of inbound tourists from South-East Asia to Taiwan.

In MATTA's 2015 fairs, Taiwan was among the most popular destinations for Malaysians, along with China, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.