Carving a Muslim niche: Taipei

More facilities in Taiwan are being Halal-certified, including the
National Palace Museum and Taipei 101 (pictured above)
Picture by tpgimages/

The Chinese destination is making numerous adjustments in an effort to woo more Muslim MICE groups, reports Paige Lee Pei Qi

A growing interest in Muslim-majority source markets has emerged among Taiwan’s business event players, as overall visitor numbers from these markets rise.

According to Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s director-general David Hsieh, arrivals from these markets rose 12.5 per cent year-on-year, achieving 180,000 travellers. However, the composition of Muslim business travellers remains a small one, noted Thomas Tsou, secretary general, Taiwan Convention & Exhibition Association, who added that Malaysia and Indonesia are the current top two Muslim markets for Taiwan.

Tsou said this segment of travellers requires halal restaurants and Muslim-friendly facilities, and if Taiwan intends to court this niche, it needs to “meet these basic food and accommodation requirements”.

Hence, the Chinese destination has awarded 24 travel-related businesses and facilities a Halal certification in May this year, a move that is expected to boost its MICE appeal among Muslims.

Today, Taiwan has a total of 70 Halal-certified event venues, including the National Palace Museum and Taipei 101 as well as hotels and restaurants in tourism hotspots like Alishan National Scenic Area in Chiayi County and Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County.

The certified restaurants and hotels offer a wide range of cuisines, from Indian and Thai to Turkish and Egyptian, according to Taiwan Tourism Bureau which has been working with Taipei-based Chinese Muslims Association over the past few years to establish the certification.

A local hotel which is favoured by Muslim MICE groups is the Regent Taipei. Besides having a Muslim-friendly restaurant, the hotel also welcomes Muslim travellers with a special accommodation package that includes guestrooms with a prayer rug, a compass, a Quran, Salat schedules and bathrooms furnished with bidets.

Michael B Gaehler, general manager of Regent Taipei, told TTGmice that Muslim guests have grown “around five to seven per cent since we started this initiative”.

The majority of the hotel’s Muslim guests hails from the Middle East and South-east Asian countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia.

Gaehler said: “We keep enhancing (our property) to ensure every Muslim visitor feels at home when staying with us.”

Taiwanese event planners are doing their part to make Muslim event delegates feel welcome too.

Stacey Yang, sales director of TW MICE Event & DMC, said special arrangements would be made to cater to the dietary requirements of Muslim delegates, either through the venue’s kitchen or from another that is Halal-certified.

Tourist attractions are also jumping on the bandwagon by coming up with Muslim-friendly facilities.According to Hsieh, all of Taiwan’s 13 national scenic areas under its administration are now ready for Muslim visitors.

“Of note, a Muslim prayer room opened in January at the Taipei Main Station, the first in a domestic public transportation hub,” he remarked proudly.

Yang said: “The increasing number of Muslim-friendly facilities in Taiwan sends a positive signal to the Muslim community that we are ready to welcome them and this will make them more interested in the destination.”

Taiwan is now ranked as the 10th best destination for Muslim travellers outside the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member states, according to the recent Global Muslim Travel Index.

Taipei Main Station boasts a Muslim prayer room

{Taking Numbers}

Elaine Chin, director of sales and marketing, Marriott Taipei

Elaine Chin, director of sales and marketing, Marriott Taipei, recommends three things to do in Taipei

Eat your way around town

Taipei is home to one of Asia’s most exciting places to have cheap and tasty street food. Food stands are available on nearly every corner of the street, and in night markets. Taiwanese-style seafood, such as grilled squid and oyster omelettes, is a must-try for those visiting the capital for the first time.

Get in touch with nature

Visit the Shei-Pa National Park, located south of the capital. This is a region filled with magnificent mountains – within the park, there are 51 peaks over 3,000m high. It is a mostly wild and undeveloped area, with a range of wildlife that includes many rare and endemic species.

A day trip out

Organise a day trip to Jiufen. This small town has quaint streets, teahouses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Although the town does not have any hotels, there are several charming guesthouses for groups who opt to stay for a night.

Hillside teahouses in Jiufen

Giant in the capital city

The grand ballroom’s pillarless layout allows guests unblocked views

Since September 2015, Taipei city landscape has been adorned with a massive integrated complex that comprises a 320-room five-star hotel, luxury apartments, a convention centre and a shopping mall.Taipei Marriott Hotel, as the giant complex is known, boasts the largest state-of-the-art convention centre in Taipei. The eight-storey building features 3,000m2 of flexible multifunctional spaces which can be used for small breakout sessions to large-scale conferences and conventions.

The most iconic venue throughout the centre is the 1,260m2 grand ballroom on the fifth floor, which is currently the largest pillarless ballroom in Taiwan’s international star-hotel category.

These spaces also come with the latest audiovisual innovations and access to gourmet catering and expert event planning.

The hotel’s other selling point is its location – it sits on the north bank of the Keelung River and within the Taiwanese capital city’s new commercial hub. Guests enjoy great accessibility from the hotel, as it is just a 10-minute drive to Songshan International Airport.

Henry Lee, COO for Marriott International, Greater China, said: “Our close proximity to important landmarks, gorgeous settings and modern facilities make the property the ideal choice for business travellers and vacationers who want a high-end experience and easy access to commerce, culture and recreation.”

The property is supported by Marriott’s signature Meetings Imagined website which aims to reinvent how meetings are planned, by making them more visual, social and purposeful. This online platform provides expert tips and the latest meeting and event trends, and inspires planners with a variety of ideas from ice breakers to food and music. – Paige Lee Pei Qi

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