Thailand and South Korea eye Malaysian Muslim market

MALAYSIA’S Muslim population has caught the attention of at least two NTOs, Thailand and South Korea, who are putting out specific initiatives this year to lure more travellers from this segment.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) director, Malaysia and Brunei, Wiboon Nimitrwanich, said this was the first time TAT was specifically targeting the Muslim population in Malaysia.

TAT will be promoting southern Thailand due to its large Muslim population and easily-available halal food. A fam trip to Krabi was organised early this month for travel agents and the media.

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) director for Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Guam, Yun Jae Jin, said a new Muslim guidebook was published early this year, listing halal restaurants in Seoul and highlighting the country’s attractions.

Other ongoing support for this market includes subsidising inbound operators for meals at halal restaurants, where food prices tend to be higher, and facilitating Malaysian movie productions.

Both NTOs noted that the number of Muslim tourist arrivals was still small. Of the 1.96 million tourist arrivals from Malaysia to Thailand last year, about 30 per cent were Muslim. South Korea, on the other hand, saw Muslim visitors contributing to 20 per cent of last year’s arrivals.

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