Philippines launches first halal travel and trade expo

 The Philippine Department of Tourism has launched the Halal Tourism and Trade Expo, SALAAM, to boost halal-certified and Muslim-friendly tourism products and services. This three-day event, which began in Quezon City, is the first of its kind fully hosted by the Department of Tourism. It aims to enhance the Philippines' offerings in halal tourism, reflecting the country's commitment to hospitality, inclusivity, and cultural sensitivity.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco emphasized the importance of halal tourism in the National Tourism Development Plan. By prioritizing halal tourism, the Philippines aims to raise awareness among tourism stakeholders about the values and practices significant to Muslim travelers, ensuring the country's competitiveness in the global tourism market.

The Philippines, home to about 12 million Muslims, mostly in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, has been recognized for its emerging Muslim-friendly destinations. Last month, the Philippines was acknowledged as an Emerging Muslim-friendly non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation Destination by the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index. This recognition highlights the country's efforts to attract more Muslim visitors, especially from the Middle East, resulting in a 10 percent increase in visitors from Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Tourism Secretary Frasco noted the deep Islamic influence in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao. This region, known for its natural beauty and cultural diversity, reflects the harmonious coexistence of various cultures and traditions, enriching the nation's heritage.

The SALAAM Expo is expected to attract around 10,000 visitors, including foreign tourists, halal business owners, and entrepreneurs. The event features exhibits, workshops, networking sessions, and culinary demonstrations by renowned chefs. The theme, “Celebrating Excellence in Philippine Halal Tourism, Innovation, and Culture,” underscores the country's rich heritage, innovative spirit, and dedication to inclusivity.

Quezon City Mayor Josefina Belmonte highlighted the importance of collaboration among government agencies, private sectors, local communities, and international partners in building a thriving halal ecosystem. This collective effort aims to create an inclusive environment that promotes prosperity for all.

By launching the SALAAM Expo, the Philippines reaffirms its commitment to becoming a top destination for Muslim travelers, recognizing the significant contributions of its Muslim communities and enhancing its global tourism appeal.

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