Muslim incentive to Switzerland

Picture by Kuoni GTE

The client wants a programme that incorporates alms-giving and daily prayers. Raini Hamdi looks at how Kuoni Group Travel Experts comes up with the solutions

Amilestone was achieved by Kuoni Group Travel Experts’ (GTE) sales office in Malaysia when it secured a Muslim group of 600 travellers from the country who wanted to go Switzerland.

Beautiful as it may be, Switzerland is not a country that has many halal facilities. Adding to the challenge, the organiser wanted a programme that incorporates two of the five pillars of Islam, almsgiving (zakat) and daily prayers (salat).

Kuoni GTE studied the religious and cultural background of the group in order to come up with a curated programme.

To meet its priority of giving alms, a get-together with the local Muslim community in Zurich at its community centre in the town was included in the itinerary. Participants were introduced to the Swiss Muslim community there, learnt how it is organised and gained insights into the charity organisations it runs. They then did their zakat on the spot to the local Muslim charity organisation of their choice.

The delegates were then moved to enable them attend to their Maghrib evening prayer. As the group was large, Kuoni GTE handled the logistical issue by spliting them into several groups to different mosques and prayer rooms across the city.

Another main challenge for this group was the lack of halal restaurants in Switzerland. The client was strict about this requirement. Said Kuoni GTE’s head of MICE Sales Asia, Reto Kaufmann: “We had to prove that meals served use ingredients from halal-certified suppliers and were prepared in pork-free kitchens. The restaurants used must neither serve alcohol nor feature any pork items on their regular menus.”

In order to meet this requirement, Kuoni GTE turned to Kuoni’s two decades of experience and expertise in catering for Indian travellers. Said Kaufmann: “We used our cost-efficient Indian catering infrastructure to arrange spectacular halal cuisine at various locations across Switzerland.

“For instance, we catered for a picnic lunch in Ballenberg, an open-air museum showcasing traditional buildings and architecture from various parts of the country. There, we incorporated (Swiss activities) such as cheese-making and wood-carving and challenged them with a competition featuring the traditional flag-throwing and alphorn blowing. One of the houses was converted to a ‘Swiss Makeover’ area, where participants could dress themselves in traditional Swiss costumes and take pictures together with locals dressed in costumes representing the different regions of Switzerland.”

Another highlight was a cruise on the pristine Lake of Brienz. On board, participants were served the national dish of Switzerland, roesti (shredded fried potato), along with halal sausages. Participants were delighted as they never thought the dish could be prepared halal-style, said Kaufmann.

Meanwhile, as Asians love shopping, this highlight could not be overlooked. But, as most Muslim travellers from South-east Asia love to shop for souvenirs and hunt for bargains rather than go for luxury goods, Kuoni GTE came up with a ‘Swiss pasar malam’. This street market shopping style which starts in the evening is ubiquitous in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, usually in residential neighbourhoods.

Mindful of the behavioural traits of this market when it comes to shopping, Kuoni GTE brought the group to wet and flea markets, to shopping malls with affordable shops, and even arranged for several local street vendors to put up stalls selling Swiss souvenirs in the hotel lobby.



May 2013

No. of participants

To fulfil the specific and strict needs of Muslim client

Must provide strictly halal food whereas destination does not have enough halal restaurants; must incorporate prayer times into itinerary; must incorporate alms-giving programme; must be an enjoyable and memorable trip

Muslim participants rated the trip their best-ever longhaul trip, according to Kuoni Group Travel Experts

Previous articleLuxe you can afford
Next articleDusit annual global workshop
Sponsored Post