Due to the rapid rise in Muslim visitors from China, Malaysia and Indonesia, the Tourism Bureau will join forces with the Chinese Muslim Association to promote the certification of restaurants in Taiwan as being friendly to Muslims to help them enjoy a pleasant stay during trips here.
According to statistics released by the Chinese Muslim Association, there were at least 10,000 Muslims visiting Taiwan last year, an annual increase of 20 percent. But since local travel agencies and restaurants have little knowledge about Muslim culture, there emerged quite a few misunderstandings in dealing with the visitors, making it difficult for them to find meals with Halal-certified food ingredients, let alone other undesirable situations.
For instance, although five-star tourist hotels offer delicious vegetarian dishes, Muslims were unwilling to patronize them because the vegetarian meat substitutes on offer are forbidden in Islam and there is no assurance the foods served by the hotel restaurants were cooked with lard.
As a result, the visiting Muslims were taken to restaurants certified as friendly to Muslims. But there are now only 20 such restaurants around the island.
Ma Chao-hsing, secretary general of the Chinese Muslim Association, said that quite a few Muslims coming to Taiwan from mainland China usually carry Muslim-use instant noodle with them, lest they should encounter an area without Halal-certified dining options.
To counter, Ma said that his association, commissioned by the Tourism to Bureau to handle the certification process, hopes to double the number of certified Muslim-friendly restaurants in Taiwan by the end of the year. Ma continued that t to be certified, restaurants must serve dishes with Halal-certified ingredients.