FILINVEST Corp.’s Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan has been identified as the first Halal-Certified tourism establishment and accommodation facility in the region.
Rowena Montecillo, director of Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 announced that the resort is the first tourism establishment in Central Visayas awarded for its full compliance under the DOT’s Halal Program during the launching of the Philippine Halal Tourism Project yesterday at the Madrid Fusion Manila, SMX Convention Centre.
The resort received the certification from the Halal International Chamber of Commerce and Industries of the Philippines, Inc. (HICCIP), the body that certifies and protects the Halal process.
“We’re very excited to see where this effort will take us, given the growing potential for Muslim tourists globally. And we are very pleased that Emirates Airlines now has direct flights from the Middle East to Cebu. We’re also positive that we can get more Muslim tourists from SE Asia and we’re doing our part to facilitate efforts for more visits from the region on short haul flights,” said Kristofer Quadros, the general manager of Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan, in a statement.
He thanked the DOT and its officials for making them part of the pilot project, which he said marked a “very important milestone in the region and the country’s tourism.”
Crimson Resort is one of eight identified tourism establishments in the region that participated in the pilot stage of the Halal Program. The other seven tourism establishments— The Bellevue Resort (Bohol), Bohol Beach Club, South Palms Resort Panglao, Costabella Tropical Beach Resort, Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort and Spa, Tandoori Restaurant and Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa—are still waiting for reassessment and recommendations, said Montecillo.
According to the resort’s public relations and marketing communications manager Mia Sy, the resort didn’t build a new restaurant or kitchen to comply with the Halal accreditation. Instead, they converted the kitchen of Tempo’s restaurant into a Halal-kitchen when the opportunity was presented. Sy added that Tempo has since been serving no-meat food even before DOT’s Halal program.
“We didn’t have to build a new kitchen or a restaurant. We just changed a few processes inside the kitchen,” Sy said.
Apart from the Halal kitchen, Quadros said the resort is also working on its Crescent certification.
“While this is an ongoing project, the resort has, in fact, started delivering Muslim-friendly rooms to its pre-identified Muslim guests, fitting the rooms with Koran, Kiblat signs, which provides prayer direction, prayer mats and a specialized compendium providing prayer times, Mosque locations and nearby Halal restaurants. The same option may also be requested through the resort’s website when they make their room arrangement and reservation,” said the general manager in a statement.
The Philippines has sharpened its focus on attracting the high-value Muslim tourism market.
Montecillo said one way of attracting them to come to the Philippines or in Cebu is to position itself as “Muslim-friendly”.
She said certifying tourism establishments as Halal-accredited puts Cebu in a strong position, as it prepares to receive more Muslim tourists with new flights by Emirates Airlines an other upcoming foreign carriers.
Halal food means food prepared according to the Shariah (Islamic) Law.
According to Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines (IDCP), Halal food does not contain any component or raw material from animals that are not Halal like pigs, dogs, and other derivatives. It does not contain any ingredient that is considered haram (forbidden) or najis (fithy).
Halal tourism is fast becoming a lucrative segment of the global industry, according to a recent study by Thomson Reuters and Dinar Standard.
The study revealed that Halal tourism accounts for 11.6 percent of global tourism expenditure, excluding the seasonal impact of the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, when millions of Muslims travel to Saudi Arabia.
The Halal tourism market is projected to be worth $238 billion by 2019, up from around $145 billion in 2014.
While this presents a huge opportunity to boost arrivals and increase tourism receipts, Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu president Julie Najar said existing hotels will have difficulty complying with Halal 100 percent.
In a separate interview, Najar said some tourism stakeholders in Cebu are still not prepared to set up full Halal-certified kitchens and that investing from scratch, like building a new kitchen or restaurant, would entail a huge investment.
Najar estimates that for a hotel or resort to set up a Halal-kitchen, it should allot at least P10 million.
Despite these challenges, Najar emphasized that most accommodation facilities in Cebu are already sensitive to the different dietary preferences of multi-national guests.