“The Muslim tourism market presents an enormous opportunity for the New Zealand industry,” Tourism NZ’s general manager of Asian markets Tony Everitt told New Zealand Herald on Monday, October 1.
“But Muslim travelers do have specific requirements, particularly in relation to food, space and facilities,” he added.
The new guide, issued by Tourism New Zealand and Christchurch International Airport, was introduced to meet the needs of Muslim travelers.
It includes a list of halal-classified restaurants and cafes, from halal-certified through to those which offer vegetarian dishes or vegan cuisine.
The halal restaurants in the guide are divided into two lists for North Island and South Island.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country’s second largest religion after Christianity.
The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
The new guide was issued amid expectations of a major rise in Muslim tourists’ expenditure by more than 13 per cent of global tourism expenditure by 2020.
“Tourism New Zealand is committed to further enhancing New Zealand’s position as a visitor destination in emerging Halal markets,” Everitt, NZ’s general manager of Asian markets, said.
“This guide is about supporting the delivery of a quality visitor experience for travellers once they are here.”
A new study by Singapore-based halal travel specialist Crescentrating and DinarStandard, a US-based firm that tracks the Muslim lifestyle market, predicted that the number of Muslim holidaymakers will increase in the next decade.
The study, conducted in 47 countries, found that spending by Muslim tourists is growing faster than the global rate and is forecast to reach $192 billion a year by 2020, up from $126 billion in 2011.
Christchurch Airport spokesperson Matthew Findlay said Muslim tourist numbers were on the rise and cited figures from last month, which showed the number of Indonesian travellers were 141 per cent higher than August 2011.
Those Muslim travelers were eager to come to New Zealand to experience things like the stunning scenery, he added.
“We know Muslim travelers want to experience the South Island.
“This guide also assures them they can find the food they prefer while they are here.”