Japan has “aggressively” catered to its Muslim travel market in the last few years, Fazal Bahardeen, founder and CEO of CrescentRating and HalalTrip, told Arab News.
According to him, in 2018, there were close to 1 million Muslim visitors in Japan, mainly from Southeast Asia. Some 25,000 travelers were from the Middle East.
“Japan has aggressively pursued the Muslim travel market, especially Malaysia and Indonesia, during the last few years. Various halal restaurants have popped up around the country,” said Bahardeen, adding that many tourist locations have set up prayer rooms and facilities.
“Japan has such a unique culture and nature. Now that they’re making it easier for Muslims to explore, it’s a unique halal destination,” said the Singapore-based entrepreneur.
Bahardeen said that destinations such as Japan and Taiwan have improved their rankings as halal tourist destinations “consistently over the last five years.”
According to Bahardeen, Japan probably stands out when so many places are becoming increasingly Islamophobic. “The country is safe for tourists and visibly Muslim people are not made to feel unwelcome,” he said.
Nobuo Tanaka, the former Japanese executive director of the International Energy Agency, told Arab News recently that with Japan planning to promote ties with more Muslim-majority countries in Asia, there has been a rise in the number of mosques in Tokyo.
But, he said, “we need more halal restaurants. It’s so difficult to find a good one in Tokyo.”