The efforts of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau in creating a Muslim-friendly environment, as well as growing awareness of Taiwan as a holiday destination, are attracting thousands of Muslim travelers from across the world to Taiwan.
Halal Travel – one of the world’s fastest growing tourism sectors
Muslim travel or Halal travel is becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing tourism sectors. The number of Muslim international travelers is predicted to rise to US$220 billion in 2020 from the 117 million in 2015 according to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2016 published by financial services firm MasterCard and CrescentRating – the world’s leading authority on halal travel.
After canvassing 130 countries both OIC and non-OIC (Organisation of Islamic Co-operation ) showed that there were an estimated 121 million international Muslim travelers, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of the entire travel industry. Muslim travellers are projected to spend US$200 billion (S$271.8 billion) in 2020 and the figures are likely to touch $300bn by 2026.
Taiwan – Seventh most desirable non-IOC destination for Muslim Travelers
Taiwan has been ranked seventh most desirable non-IOC destination for Muslim community alluring more than 30,000 visitors a year. The Taiwanese government is doing its best to ensure that out of the 11.7 million Muslim tourists worldwide, at least 100,000 visitors visit Taiwan by the end of the year. The country’s government is supporting Halal tourism as a way to boost tourism and attract holidaymakers from all over the Muslim world.
Mr. Eric Lin, Director of International Affairs Division, Taiwan Tourism Bureau in an interview with CrescentRating quoted “The newly rich people in Muslim countries now see traveling as a necessity of living, so the traveling population has grown pretty fast” He also stated that “Muslims like to travel with families and are keen to know about the latest and most popular destinations”.
The Taiwanese government has been working really very hard to create a Muslim-friendly environment to tap into this important segment of the global travelers. Little wonder that this otherwise quiet island is suddenly much in the news and looked up by many halal tourists as an important region to explore.
Owing to the fact that Taiwan is located in the heart of the Asia pacific, it is well-networked by flights from across the Asia-pacific region. Blessed with an abundant supply of rich natural and agricultural resources, beautiful and picturesque landscapes, friendly people and religious diversity, Taiwan is today fast growing to be one of the best destination for Muslims.
The Taiwanese tourism bureau is leaving no stones unturned to position Taiwan as the most Muslim friendly country to travel and make Muslim visitors feel home away from home. To this end, the government has focused its full efforts in building facilities (prayer rooms and ablution areas ) in public places for Muslim travelers and is promoting more halal hotels and restaurants in an around the major tourist attractions. The Bureau is working in close quarters with the Chinese Muslim Association (one of the oldest Muslim organization in Taiwan) to issue certifications for restaurants that comply with halal standards.
They are also working closely with hotels and central kitchens to ensure that Muslim travelers have access to halal food and comfortable Muslim-friendly hotels to stay. In a bid to encourage restaurants and hotels to improve their infrastructure and facilities to fulfill the Muslim traveler’s needs, subsidies are being provided to restaurants for acquisition of Halal Certification.
Taiwan boasts of a surprising range of halal certified restaurants and halal food options covering various Eastern, Asian and Mid-Eastern cuisine which is as varied as Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian and even Egyptian!
Taiwan has not one, but two halal certification boards namely The Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association (THID) and the Chinese Muslim Association. Both these organizations have taken up the mantle of being a Halal watchdog and an authority for Muslim travelers who want to check up on halal certifications before traveling.
The Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association is a member of the World Halal Food Council. Though slightly different in their classification (the Chinese Muslim Association differentiates “halal restaurants”; restaurants owned by Muslims, and “Muslim friendly restaurants”; restaurants owned by non-Muslims), both are fully Halal certified and safe for Muslims to enjoy. The associations also certify food products sold in supermarkets, so the Muslim traveller is covered in every sense.
Taiwan is also rated by the CrescentRating system, a globally recognized independent rating standard, which allows hotels and service providers to be rated based on their services and facilities provided to Muslim travelers. The ratings are trusted by a growing audience of Muslim leisure and business travelers who rely on its insights to book hotels for themselves and their families.
What do the crescents mean?
The CrescentRating system rates the overall Halal-friendliness of hotels on a scale of one to seven – with one being the lowest rating and seven being the highest.
What to expect from a Crescent Rated Hotel?
One to Three Crescent Rating:
Hotels with one to three crescents are considered “helpful” to the Muslim travellers. They will be able to provide information regarding prayer times and prayer direction as well as information on nearby halal food and mosques. Unless otherwise specially stated in the hotel listing on CrescentRating.com or HalalTrip.com, these hotels do not provide halal food in the hotel.
Four Crescent Rating:
Hotels with four crescents will be able to provide information regarding prayer times and prayer direction as well as information on nearby halal food and mosques. They will also have some level of halal food services; either halal breakfast and/or room service. Or it may claim all food in the hotel to be halal, but not independently verified by a halal food certification authority.
Five Crescent Rating:
Hotels with five crescents will be able to provide information regarding prayer times and prayer direction as well as information on nearby halal food and mosques. They will have a halal certified kitchen or restaurant.
Six to Seven Crescent Rating:
Hotels with a rating of six to seven crescents take into account most of the needs of a halal conscious traveller in their services and facilities. In general, they will be serving only halal food and beverages, apart from having other family friendly facilities.
Muslim Friendly Leisure Farms
What could really attract the Muslim travelers from the Middle East and other regions are Taiwan’s Muslim-friendly leisure farms promoted by the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association.
One such farm is the Tongshan Rice and Tea Resort. This leisure farm in Yilan County is quite popular among tourists. Tammy Chien, the Director converted an old barn into a learning centre with a focus on farming. Here visitors experience hands-on do-it-yourself educational activities related to farming. By using natural farming technique the farm produces jasmine tea, mushroom and organic fungus. The farm also has a 100 percent Halal Certified restaurant called the – Mushroom Pot Organic Restaurant. Their mushroom hot pot is a must try meal. It is halal and consists of a variety of mushroom, organic vegetable and shrimp! There is a subtlety to the hotpot served here – the ingredients are ginormous and fresh, and the array of sauces served includes the local Taiwanese Sha Cha Sauce, which is made from soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chillis, fish and dried shrimp.
Travelers can experience a variety of DIY activities such as mushroom planting/picking, bento making and rice puff making to promote agricultural awareness and to achieve a better understanding about the importance of agriculture in the community.
Islam in Taiwan
Islam is believed to have first reached Taiwan in the 17th century when few Muslim families from the southern Chinese coastal province of Fujian accompanied Koxinga on his invasion of Taiwan to oust the Dutch from the southern city of Tainan in 1661 and established Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan. These people are believed to be the first Muslim settlers on the island. Their descendants however became assimilated into Taiwanese society and adopted the local customs and religions.
Taiwan is home to some 60,000 Muslims. Most of these Muslim residents are said to belong to the Hui ethnic group who hail from the North western regions of China.
Mosques in Taiwan
There are seven mosques across Taiwan. There are mosques in the Taiwan’s capital city Taipei, Zhongli City, Taichung City, Tainan City and Kaohsiung City. Muslims can go for prayers, each Sunday there is a lesson, and after Friday prayers there’s halal food and meat for sale.
1. Taipei Grand Mosque : This mosque was established 1950’s as result of collaboration Taiwanese and Saudi governments, as well as other Muslim nations.
Address: No 62, section 2, Shinsheng S. Rd, Taipei
How to go: Take bus from Taipei Main Station. Bus no 18 (25 minutes), bus no 671 (22 minutes), or bus no 643 (20 minutes
2. Taipei Cultural Mosque: Originally established around 1940. Founder, Akhond Hsiao set up the Mosque as a non‐profit organization so it could be a place of worship for all Muslims. The grand mosque is the largest and most popular mosque in Taiwan and currently could accommodate a congregation of up to 1,000 people. The CMA headquarters and the Chinese Islamic Cultural and Educational Foundation (CICEF) operates from the mosque, hence the mosque is seen as an authoritative body for halal certification in Taiwan.
Address : No 3 Lane 25 Sec 1 Hsin-hi Rd, Taipei
How to go: From Taipei Main Station takes MRT to Taipower building, and then take exit 1.
3. Tainan Mosque : Completed in 1996, the four‐story building holds a shop, meeting room, men and women’s wash rooms, prayer hall, and office, allowing more convenient worship for Muslims in the nearby Chiayi and Tainan cities and counties.
Address : No 12, Alley 34, Lane 34, Sec 3, Chung-Hwa E. Rd.,Dong District, Tainan City
How to go: Take Bus from Tainan Train Station: Bus no 7660 (21 minutes), Bus no 7661 (21 minutes), & Bus no 9020 (21 minutes).
4. Longgang Mosque: Longgang Mosque was established in 1964 and is located in Taoyuan County with land and building funds collected by CMA. There are many halal restaurants surrounding this mosque owned by Muslims.
Address : Peach Co.216, Lungdwrg Rd., Jungli City, Taoyuan, Taoyuan.
How to go: From Jhongli Bus stations take Bus number 112. The trip takes around 25 minutes
5. Taichung Mosque: The mosque was set up in its current location in Taichung in 1990, and is the new bastion of Muslim faith in Central Taiwan.
Address: No.475, DàDun South Rd. Nantun Distric, 408, Taichung
How to go: Take bus from Taichung Train Station. Bus no 85 (26 minutes), bus no 40 (29 minutes), & bus no 30 (29 minutes)
6. Kaohsiung Mosque: The Kaohsiung Mosque was established in 1949 by Muslims who followed the Nationalist government to Taiwan. It is the second mosque which established in Taiwan. This mosque could be reached by Kaohsiung bus and also Kaohsiung MRT.
Address: No 11, Jianjiun Rd, Kaohsiung
How to go: Take MRT to Weiwuying Station, and take a walk less than 5 minutes in Jianjun Rd or take bus no 88 infront of Kaohsiung Train Stations (25 minutes)
7. At-Taqwa Mosque
Address : Taoyuan: 8-2, Zili 1st St, Dayuan District, Taoyuan City, Taiwan 337.
How to go: At-Taqwa Mosque is accessible North West from Taoyuan Station of the Taiwan High Speed Rail.
HALAL HOTELS TO STAY IN TAIWAN
Here are a few featured Halal Hotels in Taipei, Taiwan
U Hotel: If you prefer to stay in Taipei, the U Hotels is a good option. The Artistically designed hotel offers an inspiring art space and cosy guestrooms. Some rooms have a private bathroom with a hot tub, while others have bathrobe and slippers. For the guests comfort, all rooms come with free branded toiletries and a hairdryer. A flat-screen TV with cable channels is included. Additionally, a welcome minibar filled with featured snacks and various beverages is provided. Exclusively for the Muslim community, U HOTEL Taipei’s Muslim Guest Accommodation Package features specially designed guestrooms with the Quran, Salat times in Taiwan, a prayer rug, and a compass. Furthermore, the restrooms include “smart” toilets with built-in bidets for cleansing. Located in a top-rated area in Taipei, U Hotel offers Continental, Halal, and Asian Cuisine.
For more information visit : http:/ www.uhotels.com.tw/en/
Atami Hotel, Taipei Onsen: Offering free Wi-Fi and free access to its relaxing hot spring pools, Beitou’s Atami Hotel is located conveniently next to Xinbeitou MRT Station. Its air-conditioned rooms come with flat-screen TVs. Hotel Atami is about 29 km from Taoyuan International Airport. Local attractions nearby include Beitou Hot Spring Museum, Beitou Folk Art Museum and Xinbeitou Water Park. The spacious rooms at Atami are equipped with an electric kettle and free bottled water. Being a Halal certified hotel prayer mats and compasses are provided.
For more information visit : http://www.atamihotel.com.tw/
For the full list of halal hotels and restaurants visit http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0020323
More than all the above facilities, what will really delight the Muslim traveller is the hospitality of the Taiwanese people’s So set Taiwan as your next halal travel destination.
AUTHORIZED TOUR GUIDE IN TAIWAN
Footnote : For reliable, experienced guided tour across Taipei city and other main attractions, get in touch with Ke Hao-Jan, a Taiwanese Tourism Bureau certified and authorized tour guide. He is very proficient in English and well-aware of the place. Contact him on +886 981 922 614, Line ID : Kehaojan