Japan’s Okayama Prefecture is hoping to draw in hundreds of Malaysians with its Muslim-friendly facilities for tourists.
Masao Omori, the mayor of the prefecture’s capital city Okayama, said a deal inked this Tuesday with a Kuala Lumpur-based travel agency is expected to help bring in 240 to 480 Muslim tourists to the Okayama Prefecture in 2017.
“With this project, we will make Okayama a more Muslim-friendly destination for travel, lifestyle and work,” he was quoted saying in a report carried by Japan news site The Japan Times.
According to Omori, Okayama city has many Muslim-friendly facilities such as a mosque and prayer rooms in hotels, while Japan’s very first halal bakery can be found in the nearby town of Kibichuo.
Naoko Tahara, a representative director of Aalam Japan Bakery, said there are currently around 700 to 800 Muslim residents in the Okayama Prefecture and noted that more Muslim-friendly facilities are required to cater to their needs.
According to the report, the deal on the “Okayama-Style Health Tourism Project” was signed by three municipalities of Okayama Prefecture ? Okayama city, Kibichuo town and Maniwa city ? with Malaysia’s Corporate Information Travel Sdn Bhd.
The memorandum of understanding will see the Malaysian travel agency promoting tourism to both local Muslims and non-Muslims alike and will run from next January to March 2021.
The deal was signed during the Japanese officials’ visit to Kuala Lumpur to promote tourism from their region.
In a November 10 Kyodo News report, Japan National Tourism Organization executive director Masatoshi Miyake said the total number of Malaysians visiting Japan this year is expected to hit 400,000.
Miyake said the number of Malaysian visitors to Japan in this year’s first nine months grew by 33.4 per cent to 249,800 when compared against the same period in 2015.
Among Asian countries, Malaysia takes the seventh spot in terms of number of visitors to Japan and trails China, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.