PH as Emerging Muslim-friendly destination by GMTI; DOT vows to expand Halal Tourism
PH as Emerging Muslim-friendly destination by GMTI; DOT vows to expand Halal Tourism
PH as Emerging Muslim-friendly destination by GMTI; DOT vows to expand Halal Tourism
by Karen Ow-Yong03 June 2024
Department of Tourism (DOT) answers questions during the Philippine Economic Briefing Forum held in Pasay City recently. Photo courtesy of DOT.

MANILA – The Philippines has been recognized anew as an Emerging Muslim-friendly non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2024.

This was announced during the Halal in Travel Global Summit held on 30 May 2024 in Singapore, highlighting the GMTI’s annual report benchmarking destinations in the Muslim travel market.

Citing the report, the 2024 results of the GMTI described the Philippines as an “Emerging Muslim-friendly non-OIC Destination “focusing on building capacity to welcome tourists through various initiatives.”

“These include Halal food across the destination and integrating Muslim- Friendly amenities at major tourist spots. Tourism authorities have placed Halal tourism high on their priority agenda, evidenced by their action to enhance the Halal tourism portfolio and raise awareness among tourism stakeholders about the values and practices important to Muslim travellers,” the report continues.


In response, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco expressed her elation with the recent citation, noting that the recognition is an affirmation of the Marcos’ Administration’s commitment to diversity and promote inclusivity.

"The Philippine Department of Tourism recognizes the significance and potential of Halal Tourism in contributing to the growth and diversity of our tourism industry. As a country known for its warm hospitality, rich cultural heritage, and breathtaking natural attractions, catering to the needs of Muslim travellers through the development of Halal Tourism is crucial in ensuring that we raise our competitiveness in the global tourism market," Secretary Frasco said.

The Tourism chief added that because Halal Tourism is a rapidly growing market segment, it is not just an opportunity to demonstrate inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, but to attract opportunities for livelihood and employment for Filipinos.


Courtesy of Department of Tourism (DOT)

Strengthening Halal Tourism in the Philippines

The Halal in Travel Global Summit coincided with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s recent state visit to Brunei Darussalam, where Frasco signed a tourism cooperation agreement with her counterpart with the aim of further developing Halal Tourism between the Philippines and Brunei, among others.

Also, on the sidelines of the recently held Arabian Travel Mart (ATM) 2024, the DOT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Megaworld Hotels and Resorts with the commitment of all their properties to be Muslim-friendly.


The Philippines also signed an MOU with the State of Qatar in April this year to strengthen cooperation, particularly in the aspects of mutual development and growth of tourism and business events.

Adapting to the changing needs of Muslim travellers by offering Halal-friendly accommodations, dining options, prayer facilities, and other services not only enhances the overall visitor experience but also showcases our respect for diverse cultural and religious practices. This, in turn, fosters goodwill and strengthens our reputation as a welcoming and inclusive travel destination,” Frasco emphasized.

Rate of arrivals from Gulf countries recovering

Meanwhile, data from the DOT shows arrivals from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC Middle East) have posted a recovery of 115 percent.


In 2019, arrivals from the Middle East region accounted for 68,562. Visitor arrivals from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reached 43,748, followed by UAE with 10,192 tourists, and Kuwait with 6,309. Meanwhile, tourists from Bahrain totaled 3,296, while Oman and Qatar had 2,526 and 2,491 visitors, respectively.

In 2023, foreign tourist arrivals from the GCC have overtaken the 2019 figures, reaching 79,041 and posting a 115.28 percent recovery rate. UAE led the surge of tourist arrivals to the Philippines with 33,769, followed by Saudi Arabia (19,311), Qatar (10,438), Kuwait (6,915), Bahrain (5,886), and Oman (2,695), DOT data shows.

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