News From : DagangHalal.com (04 Nov 2009)
A WEBSITE recently set up for Muslim travellers rates hotels by how far they go to meet their needs.
Nine hotels in four countries, including five here, have so far been assessed by Crescentrating (www.crescentrating.com), with about 40 waiting to be rated. They are rated on a seven-point scale on how far they go to provide, for example, halal eateries.
The highest score so far, five out of seven – has gone to the Furama Riverfront Hotel here and the three-star Gulf Paradise Hotel in Doha, Qatar.
Besides halal eating places, rooms in the most Muslim-friendly hotels are expected to have indicators on the direction in which Mecca lies and information on prayer times, among others.
Mr Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive officer of Crescentrating, which casts itself as a developer of travel and tourism facilities and services, said: ‘Travel is the next big thing in the halal industry and this is an area where there is tremendous growth potential.’
Going by his estimates and data from the World Tourism Organisation, the ‘halal-conscious’ leisure market was worth US$46 billion (S$64 billion) in 2007.
With the United States and Europe tightening their security and borders, Middle East travellers have instead headed here and to Malaysia and Indonesia, noted research company Frost & Sullivan. The number of such travellers coming to these parts grew 12 per cent between 2007 and last year.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) noted that the number of these tourists who came here between January and September is 1.8 per cent higher than those in the first nine months of last year.
Keen to grow this market, STB welcomes initiatives by private companies like Crescentrating, said STB’s director of strategic planing and innovation John Conceicao.
He added: ‘Muslim visitors are important to Singapore tourism, with many coming from our top key markets Indonesia and Malaysia, and increasingly from the Middle East.’
Hotels like Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel the Stamford, among the first to sign up to be rated, said that in today’s wired world, being listed on websites such as Crescentrating will build their reputations among Muslim guests.
Religious teacher Jakfar Embek, of the Association of Muslim Religious Teachers, said Muslim travellers would find the website useful as their needs differ from those of other travellers. ‘The most important is still where to get halal food,’ he said.