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Great Opportunities for Thailand to Attract Muslim Tourists in AEC

November 25, 2013 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

1332580535pThe Muslim tourism market worldwide is likely to grow further. It is receiving greater attention, especially when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) goes into full effect in 2015.
Bright prospects are seen for Thailand to expand its tourism market in Muslim countries in the ASEAN region.

Today the population of Muslims is 1.57 billion, accounting for 23 percent of the world’s population. It is expected that by the year 2020, the population of Muslims will stand at two billion, representing 25 percent of the global population. The number will increase to 2.2 billion in 2030, accounting for 24.6 percent of the world’s population.

Around 20 percent of Muslims worldwide live in Asia now. Indonesia is the country that has the highest number of Muslims, with 203 million, out of its population of 243 million. A study titled, Global Muslim Lifestyle Travel Market: Landscape & Consumer Needs, shows that Muslim tourists globally represent a major niche market, worth 126.1 billion US dollars in 2011, and growing another 4.8 percent through 2020, compared to the global average of 3.8 percent.

Thailand ranks eighth among popular destinations for Muslim tourists. The top destinations for Muslim tourists are Malaysia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, followed by Singapore, Russia, China, France, Thailand, and Italy.

With the coming of AEC, Thailand stands a good chance of becoming a major tourism destination among Indonesian people. It takes only about three hours to travel from Indonesia to Thailand by plane. Many Indonesian people love Thai food and Thailand offers many forms of tourism at low prices. According to the Association of the Indonesia Tour and travel Agencies (ASITA), about 200,000 Indonesians travel to Thailand each year, and the number is likely to increase.

Halal food is an element to help promote Muslim tourist arrivals. Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia, where people are mainly Muslims, have become Thailand’s major markets for halal food and products in ASEAN. There is potential for Thailand to have a greater share of the world’s halal market, considering the country’s strengths in the agricultural sector. The high quality standard in the Thai halal food industry is another advantage.

It has been suggested that Thailand develop more facilities and services for Muslim tourists to encourage them to visit the country. Tour guides who speak the Indonesian language should also be provided, together with more halal food and products. In Thailand, spa-outlets have introduced the concept of Muslim-friendly spas. Muslim prayer rooms are also provided in many places in the country.

Muslim tourists have become a focus in Thailand’s recent marketing campaigns, as well.

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