Friday, 31 March 2017

THAILAND: Al Meroz Halal Hotel Lures Muslim Travelers

Thailand has opened its first halal hotel in a bid to attract more Muslim visitors and boost its economy.

The predominantly Buddhist nation received nearly 30 million foreign tourists last year but only about 650,000 were from the Middle East, Reuters reported.

The four-star Al Meroz Hotel opened late last year and is located near Ramkhamhaeng Station in Bangkok. It has mosque-like architecture, two prayer rooms and three halal dining halls. As a Muslim-friendly hotel, all its food is halal and alcohol-free.

“There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. It’s a huge market,” said the hotel’s general manager Sanya Saengboon. “Just 1 percent of that market is enough for us to thrive.”

The rooms cost between 4,000 baht (US$115.44) and 50,000 baht a night, said Sanya.

The hotel has been certified by the Dubai-based Gulf Halal organization, ensuring that halal standards are maintained. It says it is targeting high-end Muslim markets and non-Muslims from Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

An Australian guest at the hotel, Aamir Fazal, 28, said that access to a halal hotel was a comfort to Muslim travelers in Thailand where halal food can be hard to find. “It is a really nice experience. It’s the first halal hotel here and I find that amazing,” said Fazal.

Thailand also launched a mobile application last year, which helps tourist search for halal restaurants and Muslim-friendly attractions.