Thailand is making strides in catering to Muslim visitors, speakers at a research seminar held recently at the PATA Engagement Hub said, with the country’s six-million-strong Muslim population and growing range of Muslim-friendly products and services playing important roles.
Speakers pointed out that Thailand – ranked just under Singapore among the non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation destinations most popular among Muslim travellers – has enormous potential to overtake its ASEAN neighbour if proper marketing strategies and training programmes are undertaken.
Train departing Kanchanaburi station
As of the April 2017 flight schedules, Thailand already has more than 730 weekly flights from cities in 17 Muslim-majority countries, more than any other country in Asia. It also gives visa-free and/or visa-on-arrival facilities to citizens of 12 Muslim-majority countries.
Moreover, Pakorn Piyakorn, director, Halal Standards Institute of Thailand, shared that work was underway in cooperation with the Halal Science Center at Chulalongkorn University to finalise a common certification system for Thailand's growing number of hotels, restaurants and other products and services seeking to cater to the Muslim clientele.
Sanya Saengboon, general manager, Al Meroz Hotel and Adam Phadungsilp, resident Manager, Nouvo City Hotel, have both seen success from taking a Muslim-friendly positioning while their hotels' alcohol-free status has also been welcomed by family travellers from all continents.
The seminar was opened by PATA CEO Mario Hardy, who noted the association's growing involvement with the Islamic world, in the form of PATA events being held in Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Maldives, and rising membership from the Middle Eastern countries.