|Taipei, July 15 (CNA) Fourteen local restaurants obtained Halal certification Friday, the first time Taiwan issued such certification in an effort to attract Islamic tourists worldwide.
Halal certification is a recognition of products that are permissible under Islamic law for consumption by Muslims.
Chiang Ming-ching, a division chief of the Tourism Bureau, said the campaign promoting Halal cuisine helps Taiwan reach Islamic markets more easily.
He said Islamic tourists, especially those from Malaysia and Indonesia, have contributed significantly to Taiwan’s travel industry.
According to Tourism Bureau statistics, Malaysian and Indonesian tourists represent 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively, of the foreign nationals visiting Taiwan last year.
However, to get the certification, restaurants have to pass a strict verification procedure, said the Chinese Muslim Association, which helped the bureau implement the project.
“This is a mission that is not only about making money, but also about building up foreign relations,” said Ishag Ma, secretary general of the association.
Lei I-tsung, executive chef of the Farglory Hotel, said the hotel has spent around NT$2 million (US$69,000) to re-design the restaurant and retrain its staff.
While two chefs were sent to Brunei to learn authentic Islamic cuisine, Lei said, additional foods and kitchenware were purchased for exclusive “Halal” treatment.
“We also had to remove objects such as sculptures of human beings or animals in case they offend the Muslims,” he said.
To Alfazazi Namairage, trade commissioner of the Nigeria Trade Office in Taiwan, Muslim-friendly services provided by Farglory and 13 other restaurants showed Taiwanese are tolerant and accommodating toward foreign cultures.
A practicing Muslim who came to Taiwan 10 years ago, Namairage said Halal certification also helps him make the right dining decisions.
“I will have to keep business cards of all the restaurants so I can impress a Nigerian delegation next time,” he said. (By Lee Hsin-Yin) enditem/ly