The Rise Of Halal Tourism

China isn’t the only country with a new middle class eager to see the world; Malaysian and Indonesian travelers are increasingly vacationing abroad, and countries across the Pacific have started to take note:

For observant Muslim travelers, Japan’s Kansai International Airport has long been a food desert. Now they can slurp noodles with everyone else. In July the kitchen at The U-don, a Sanuki udon noodle shop, was halal-certified. This was no mere act of cultural kindness: From 2011 to 2012, the Renzo Piano-designed airport witnessed a 70-percent increase in visitors from Indonesia, the world’s fourth most-populous nation and home to its largest Muslim population. The people’s stomachs have spoken, and halal udon was only the beginning of the airport’s – and Japan’s – larger vision to embrace Southeast Asian tourists. …

Japan is not alone in courting Southeast Asia’s burgeoning middle class. Thailand has touted its halal spas, while hospitals in South Korea are building prayer rooms for those in town for a nip and tuck. New Zealand is going after Islamic foodies with a culinary tourism guide for halal travelers, and anticipates that spending by Muslim tourists will increase to more than 13 percent of global tourism expenditure by 2020.