- Title: Thailand taps into Muslim tourism with first halal hotel.
- Date: 30th August 2016
- Summary: BANGKOK, THAILAND (AUGUST 29, 2016) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF AL MEROZ HOTEL PAINTING OF MASJID INSIDE AL MEROZ HOTEL ARAB FAMILY WALKING UNDER CHANDELIER IN LOBBY HOTEL LOBBY MUSLIM WOMAN IN LOBBY GUEST AND HOTEL STAFF TALKING VARIOUS OF CHINESE WOMAN POSING FOR PHOTO HOLDING HEADSCARF AL MEROZ'S MANAGING DIRECTOR, SANYA SAENGBOON, SPEAKING TO STAFF AT RECEPTION COUNTER RECEPTIONIST SANYA WALKING THROUGH RESTAURANT AND REARRANGING CONDIMENTS ON TABLE STAFF CLEANING WALL (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) AL MEROZ'S MANAGING DIRECTOR, SANYA SAENGBOON, SAYING: "(Al Meroz Hotel is) for tourists who want a peaceful place and those who like to have a cozy come here, because we are not a noisy hotel." VARIOUS OF GUESTS AT BREAKFAST BUFFET FRUIT AND SALAD BAR / GUESTS HAVING BREAKFAST IN BACKGROUND MUSLIM STAFF MAKING OMELETTE AT SUSHI STATION GUESTS EATING BREAKFAST (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN GUEST, AAMIR FAZAL, SAYING: "I feel more comfortable here. Everything is more halal… you can have like breakfast. We were in Phuket before in a resort, so it was a little hard to find halal food there, especially breakfast." VARIOUS OF HOTEL STAFF ATTENDING ISLAMIC LECTURE HALAL CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES IN KITCHEN VARIOUS OF CHEF DEMONSTRATING AT DEMI CHEF TRAINING VARIOUS OF CHEF ADDING CHICKEN TO FRYING PAN (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) DEMI CHEF, THOTSAPORN SIRIJINDAVIROJ, SAYING: "This is a good opportunity for me to have chance to work in this hotel. Because this is the first star Halal hotel in Thailand, and there are a lot of Halal customers around the world." VARIOUS OF HOTEL STAFF POINTING TO DIRECTION MARK IN GUEST ROOM PRAYER MAT IN GUEST ROOM PRAYER TIMETABLE IN GUEST ROOM VARIOUS OF KORAN IN BEDSIDE TABLE DRAWER SANYA TALKING DURING INTERVIEW (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) AL MEROZ'S MANAGING DIRECTOR, SANYA SAENGBOON, SAYING: "There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. It's a huge market. Just one percent of that market is enough for us to thrive." WOMEN PRAYING IN WOMEN'S PRAYER ROOM VARIOUS OF MEN WASHING OUTSIDE MEN'S PRAYER ROOM VARIOUS OF STAFF PRAYING AL MEROZ HOTEL ROOFTOP ROOFTOP SWIMMING POOL AT AL MEROZ HOTEL
- Embargoed: 14th September 2016 16:54
- Keywords: halal Al Meroz hotel Bangkok Muslim Tourism Tourists Travel
- Location: BANGKOK, THAILAND
- City: BANGKOK, THAILAND
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Living/Lifestyle,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0014XBFIVP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Predominately Buddhist Thailand has opened its first halal hotel as it hopes to attract more Muslim visitors and boost one of the few bright spots in its economy.
Nearly 30 million foreign tourists came to Thailand last year but only about 658,000 were from the Middle East, according to industry data.
The four-star Al Meroz hotel in Bangkok, which opened in November, hopes to play its part in changing that, and to cash in.
"There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. It's a huge market," said the hotel's general manager, Sanya Saengboon. "Just one percent of that market is enough for us to thrive."
The Al Meroz, which boasts mosque-like architecture, has two prayer rooms and three halal dining halls.
Rooms cost from 4,000 baht all the way up to 50,000 baht ($116 to $1,445) a night, said Sanya.
A guest at the hotel, Aamir Fazal, 28, a security officer from Australia, said access to a halal hotel was a comfort to Muslim travellers in Thailand where halal food can be hard to find.
"I feel more comfortable here. Everything is more halal… you can have like breakfast. We were in Phuket before in a resort, so it was a little hard to find halal food there, especially breakfast," said Fazal.
"It's a really nice experience. It's the first halal hotel here and I find that amazing," he added.
The hotel regularly holds Islamic lectures for its staff, which is made up of Muslims, Buddhists as well as people from other religions.
In the kitchen, a chef is showing line chefs how to prepare halal food properly, as halal food is typically free of pork and alcohol.
"This is a good opportunity for me to have chance to work in this hotel. Because this is the first star Halal hotel in Thailand, and there are a lot of Halal customers around the world," said Thotsaporn Sirijindaviroj, a demi chef.
Eager to tap into a growing Muslim tourist market, Thailand launched a mobile application last year which helps tourists search for halal eateries and Muslim-friendly attractions.
Parts of Thailand's south, near the border with Muslim Malaysia, are majority Muslim.
Many Malaysians pop over the border for short visits but a low-level separatist insurgency in the far south, that has included bomb attacks in border towns frequented by Malaysian tourists, has dented business there.
A series of bomb attacks in more mainstream tourist towns south of Bangkok this month, in which four people were killed and dozens wounded, has led to fears the insurgency is spreading.
Thailand saw a 10 percent increase in arrivals from the Middle East in 2015 compared with 2014, data from the Department of Tourism showed.
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