Categories: INTERNATIONALTravel

Thailand Has Big Plans To Become a Leading Muslim Tourist Destination

It’s no surprise that many countries around the world are increasingly looking to cater for Muslim travellers. 

In 2022 alone, 110 million Muslim international visitors were accounting for 12% of all international arrivals. This number is only predicted to increase to 140 million in 2023 and a further 160 million in 2024.

But this growth is not new. Before the pandemic, the Muslim travel market was growing exponentially, and many were starting to see potential in an untapped market segment. Presenting enormous opportunities for many tourism boards and businesses worldwide, it’s about time halal tourism is embraced and taken advantage of. 

Thailand has taken this on board and is now looking to embrace this rise and become an emerging destination for Muslim tourists. More specifically, according to deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek, Thailand is aiming to lure more Muslim travellers by 2027. 

According to Thailand’s Department of Tourism, it is estimated that 3 million Muslim tourists visited Thailand in 2022 compared to a small number of 875,043 in 2017. What’s more, it has been identified that Muslim tourists usually stick around for two weeks and spend around $170 per day. 

Five Year Plan

So with everything in mind, Thailand has introduced a five-year plan (2023-2027) to implement a better tourism infrastructure for Muslim visitors. With more halal food availability, as well as introducing services that meet the needs of Muslim travellers, Thailand is looking to promote the country as a Muslim-friendly tourist destination. 

Whilst Indonesia and Malaysia are right up there when it comes to the best countries for Muslim travellers, Thailand is not far off. With some tweaks and changes, they too could become one of the ideal Muslim-friendly tourist destinations in the Far East. 

Rachada Dhnadirek told the Bangkok Post, ”The government sees the importance of opening for the Muslim tourism market.” She also added, “We hope the policy can be carried on by the new government.”

Halal Tourism in Thailand Currently

Whilst the country has huge plans to improve the service quality of tourism for Muslim travellers, in many ways it is already doing rather well. 

In terms of demographics and current Muslim population, Muslims make up Thailand’s largest religious minority, mostly living in the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, and Satun.

What’s more, the country is steeped in Islamic history. Almost 200 years ago in the early 1800s, an Indonesian-Arab trader named Musa Bafadel arrived to settle down in an area called Bangrak.

Diving right into the centre of Bangkok, one will find Haroon Mosque, which according to locals is one of the oldest mosques in the area. Here you’ll find traditional halal Thai dishes such as Khao Mok (Thai Biryani), Gaeng Gari (Chicken Curry) and Khanom Soyi (Dessert Pudding).

With over 170 mosques in Bangkok, Thai Muslims – for a long time now – have full liberty to practise their religion. Not only is this part of the constitution but the Muslims are also admirably respected by all Buddhists in Thailand. With many government-funded Islamic schools and mosques, the Thai Ministry of Religion makes it a point to accommodate Muslims remarkably well.

With all this already in place, Muslim tourists have full confidence in Thailand to reach its goal of becoming a top Muslim-friendly destination by 2027!

Main Image Credit: Juber Ahmed

Juber Ahmed

Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.   Juber's favourite Quote... "The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page" [Saint Augustine]

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