Opportunities and challenges for Da Nang to attract Muslim tourists
Update: Jul 05, 2023
Tourism businesses in Da Nang always strive to target new source markets to attract more tourists as diversification of tourist source markets will help the city's tourism industry develop more sustainably. The Muslim tourist market is among new source markets of the city, and it is considered a very promising yet challenging market.

The resumption of many direct flights from Da Nang to Muslim countries provides a great opportunity for Da Nang to attract visitors from these source markets. In the photo: Indian guests participating in a workshop in Da Nang. Photo: Thu Ha

Providing Halal services for Muslim guests

Every day, Maharaja Indian restaurant located in 9 An Thuong 2 Street, My An Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District welcomes a large number of Muslim guests. According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Duyen, the restaurant's manager, Muslim guests are always fastidious about halal requirements, so restaurants that can cater to Muslims' needs must provide Halal assurance by getting Halal certification from a competent authority. This certificate provides a higher level of Halal assurance and easily identifies a Halal restaurant as it states that food or products are allowed for Muslims. Halal certification at restaurants ensures that foods are served according to Islamic dietary laws. Halal means permitted or lawful or fit for consumption.

In its efforts to help better cater to Muslim diners and increase the level of trust with them, Maharaja Indian restaurant has already recruited 4 Indian chefs to cook the main dishes in order to guarantee its customers on its own that the food it serves is Halal.

Duyen said that the Muslim tourist market is one of Da Nang’s potential source markets, but Muslim tourist arrivals in the city are still lower than expected due to the limited number of direct flights connecting the city with Muslim countries. Therefore, it is necessary to open more direct flights between Da Nang and Muslim countries in order to expand source market and attract more tourists. In addition, Duyen suggested that more competent authorities should be available in the city to grant Halal certificates for restaurants in order to enable them to cater to the Muslim segment.

In order to attract Muslim diners, Wyndham Danang Golden Bay Hotel located in Le Van Duyet Street, Nai Hien Dong Ward, Son Tra District has its own Halal certified-kitchen that is exclusively used for the cooking of Halal foods.

Mr. Tran Hung, the hotel's communications manager, said that given the growth of the Muslim tourist market, it is of utmost importance for the restaurant owners who wish to cater to the Muslim segment to have a comprehensive understanding of the concept of Halal food. The most crucial criterion for Muslims when choosing to consume food from a restaurant is to know how it assures the food is Halal. Restaurants can opt to get one of their kitchens Halal certified. This will allow them to assure Muslim diners that although they serve alcohol, the food served comes from a Halal-certified kitchen. Such kitchens are exclusively used for the cooking of Halal foods. They maintain complete separation of Halal and non-Halal foods, ensuring no cross-contamination. Restaurants have some of their menu items marked as Halal, but both Halal and non-Halal food preparation is done in the same kitchen. The main concern for Muslim diners will be how restaurants avoid cross-contamination. Halal food needs to be cooked with a different set of cooking equipment from the ones used for cooking non-Halal dishes. Utensils such as forks and spoons also need to be differentiated.  

The best way for restaurants to provide Halal assurance is to get a Halal certification for them or their kitchens from authorized functional bodies. They essentially certify the claim of the restaurant that all food served on the premises is Halal. Restaurants that are issued certificates by a Halal certification body that confirms their food as being Halal are known as Halal-certified restaurants. Besides, having the restaurant staff and, in particular, the chefs trained/accredited on Hala food will help better cater to Muslim diners. It will allow the restaurant to have an in-depth understanding of what halal food is and also increase the level of trust with Muslim diners.

The ingredients and food used in the Halal-certified kitchen must follow Halal requirements in order to ensure that the restaurants claim "No Pork No Lard" and serve Halal meat. Restaurants with Halal-certified kitchens will make them stand out from competition in order to attract Muslim diners.

However, Mr. Hung highlighted the significance of developing a reliable and diverse Halal food supply chain with a focus on ensuring the availability of Halal –certified restaurants, hotels and stores that can cater to Muslims' needs in attracting visitors to Da Nang. Importance should be attached to conducting Da Nang destination marketing campaigns in Muslim tourism source markets, including countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

High priority should be given to creating tour packages and programs tailored to the needs of Muslim travellers with a focus on setting up Muslim-friendly services and facilities along with prayer areas. Heed should be paid to building partnerships with Muslim organizations and communities to promote the development of the Halal tourism market and attract Muslim tourists to the city. Special attention should be paid to increasing the level of knowledge about Halal culture and requirements among the city’s tourism staff in efforts to ensure the highest quality of the city’s travel-related services for Muslim tourists, as well as increase their satisfaction.

Be proactive in welcoming Muslim tourists

Many tourism businesses in Da Nang have been active in preparing themselves to meet the needs of Muslim tourists in order to better cater to the Muslim segment in a bid to attract more visitors to the city.

According to Mr Nguyen Duc Quynh, the Chairman of the Da Nang Hotel Association and General Director of Furama Resort Danang, the Muslim tourism source markets in such Asian countries as India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines are potential source markets of Da Nang. In its efforts to attract Muslim tourists to the city, the hotel industry has organized many specialized training courses for hotel staff to increase their understanding of the needs and characteristics of Islamic tourists.

Furama Resort Danang is offering Halal-friendly services, facilities, and food and Beverages for Muslim guests as it has recruited trained chefs to prepare Halal dishes and chosen suppliers of specific services tailored to the needs of these guests.

Mr. Ramlan Osman, the Director of Halal Vietnam Company hopes that the city’s tourism staff, including travel services employees and tour guides, will have high level of halal knowledge, awareness, and positive attitude toward Muslim tourists in order to increase their satisfaction. In addition, more Muslim-friendly accommodation establishments should be developed in the city. These factors will help promote the development of Islamic tourism in Da Nang, Mr. Ramlan Osman added.

According to Mrs Marina Muhamad, the Director of the Islamic Tourism Centre under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Malaysia, Muslim tourists tend to go online to find out about their travel destinations as they prefer to visit places with sustainable, clean, hygienic, health-oriented, and experiential tourism, especially places that pay respect to Islamic culture.

Therefore, she stressed the need for Da Nang and other parts of Viet Nam to pay more attention to developing Muslim-friendly services, and setting up prayer areas in tourist accommodation establishments for Muslims in order to ensure their convenience at these venues. The focus should be on promoting Da Nang as a Muslim-friendly travel destination so that Muslims feel secure when visiting the city.

Reporting by Thu Ha – Translating by H.L

Da Nang Today - baodanang.vn - July 5, 2023