Thailand aims to become a top destination for Muslim tourists from other nations by 2027. Muslim tourists are one of the country’s top tourism targets due to their expanding numbers and great spending power, according to Rachada Dhnadirek, deputy government spokesman.
More than 3 million Muslim visitors visited Thailand last year, a significant increase from 875,043 in 2017, she said, citing Department of Tourism (DoT) figures, adding that a Muslim visitor stays for 13 days and spends approximately 6,000 baht per day on average.
She stated that the DoT has announced a five-year strategy (2023-2027) to focus on enhancing the service quality of tourism providers to reach international standards in order to better promote the kingdom among Muslim tourists.
This involves bringing halal goods, services, and activities that match the demands of Muslim visitors, as well as applying technology to make travel easier, according to her.
She stated that the Department of Tourism is working together with allied industries to explore ways to support Muslim travellers and market Thailand as a Muslim-friendly tourist destination.
According to Ms Rachada, this strategic plan would help the country become one of the top destinations for Muslim tourists within the next five years. “The government recognises the significance of opening up to the Muslim tourism market,” she explained. “We hope the new government will continue the policy.”
Indonesia and Malaysia tie for first place in the Mastercard-Crescentrating Global Muslim Travel Index 2023, followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry’s Economics Tourism and Sports Division, Thailand has welcomed more than 16.472 million international tourists since January 1, bringing in 689 billion baht.
The country welcomed 577,136 foreign tourists from August 7 to 13, with the number of Japanese and Indian tourists growing by 84.36% and 22.54%, respectively, over the previous week, according to the report.
The government forecasts that 570,000 international tourists would visit the country this week, with the majority coming from East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
In Thailand, Muslims comprise a sizable proportion of the population. The majority of Muslims in Thailand are Sunni, and their existence dates back centuries. They are most concentrated in Thailand’s southern provinces, particularly Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and sections of Songkhla. Thailand’s “Deep South” is a popular term for this area.
Because many are ethnic Malays, the Muslim minority in the southern provinces is ethnically and culturally distinct from the majority Thai population. As a result, the two tribes have certain cultural and linguistic differences. People in the region frequently speak Thai and Malay, and Islam plays an important role in their daily life.
Tensions and sometimes conflicts have arisen in the southern provinces due to historical, socioeconomic, and cultural issues. Some separatist parties have advocated for more autonomy for the region, claiming issues of cultural and religious identity as justifications. It is crucial to highlight, however, that the vast majority of Muslims in Thailand are peaceful and do not support or participate in such separatist actions.
The Thai government has made a number of steps to address Muslim concerns in the southern provinces, as well as to promote cultural understanding and religious tolerance. These initiatives include instruction and services in both Thai and Malay, as well as religious practises. Nonetheless, the issue remains complicated, necessitating continual attention from both the government and local populations.
Halal Food in Thailand
Finding halal food in Thailand is generally not difficult, especially in popular tourist destinations. Thailand is known for its diverse cuisine, and many restaurants and food stalls cater to halal dietary requirements. Here are some tips for finding halal food in Thailand:
- Muslim Areas: In cities with significant Muslim populations, like Bangkok, Pattani, and Phuket, you’ll find entire neighborhoods with halal restaurants and markets. For instance, in Bangkok, areas like Banglamphu and Pahurat have numerous halal options.
- Halal Certification: Look for restaurants that display a halal certification. This ensures that the food is prepared and served according to Islamic dietary laws. The certification is often displayed prominently in the restaurant’s entrance.
- Street Food: Many street food vendors offer halal options, especially those in predominantly Muslim areas. Look for vendors with signs or menus that indicate “halal” or “Muslim food.”
- Local Cuisine: Thai cuisine includes many dishes that can be halal, such as rice and vegetable-based dishes. Just make sure to ask the restaurant staff about the ingredients and cooking methods to ensure they’re halal.
- Seafood and Vegetarian Options: Thailand is famous for its seafood, and seafood dishes are usually safe for halal consumption. Additionally, many Thai vegetarian dishes are also halal-friendly.
- Mosques and Islamic Centers: Mosques and Islamic centers often have attached eateries that serve halal food. Even if you’re not visiting for religious reasons, these establishments can be a great source of authentic halal cuisine.
- Online Resources: Use online resources such as travel forums, apps, and websites that provide information about halal restaurants in Thailand. Websites like HalalTrip and apps like Halal Navi can help you locate halal eateries.
- Local Knowledge: Don’t hesitate to ask locals for recommendations. They can provide valuable insights on where to find the best halal food in the area.
- Language: Learn a few basic Thai phrases related to halal food to communicate your dietary requirements effectively.
- Hotel Recommendations: If you’re staying in a hotel, the staff can often guide you to nearby halal restaurants or even provide halal options within the hotel’s dining facilities.
Remember that while it’s generally easy to find halal food in Thailand, it’s always a good idea to confirm the halal status with the restaurant staff or owners. Thailand is a popular tourist destination, and many businesses are accustomed to accommodating different dietary needs.