San Fernando, Pampanga―The Departments of Tourism and Trade and Industry in Central Luzon are preparing the region to be a “Muslim-friendly destination” to meet the need of the rising number of Muslim tourists to the country, including the 15,000 delegates coming for the 30th Southeast Asian Games the Philippines will host next year.
The DoT is preparing the tourist spots and sites in the region while the DTI is ensuring the halal-certified foods and other needs of Muslim visitors and the incoming athletes, coaches, and their supporters, the agencies said in a joint statement.
Most of the approved 56 events in the SEA Games will be held at the multi-purpose Clark Global City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone managed by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
The Philippines will host the biennial multi-sports event from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12, 2019, with 11 countries participating ― five of them Muslim countries, including the Philippines.
Around 8,750 athletes, 2,000 coaches, and 15,000 people are expected to attend the games.
Clark will serve as the main hub of the SEAG and will host aquatics, athletics, martial arts, baseball, softball, and archery, while Subic events include triathlon, duathlon, and windsurfing, among others.
Carolina Uy, DoT regional director, said Central Luzon is now getting a fair share of Muslim tourists due to the direct flights of Qatar Airways and Emirates to and from Clark International Airport.
“With this development and the coming 30th SEA Games with athletes, supporters, guests and other delegates coming, we have to prepare the region ahead of time, specially the land attractions of Clark with the combined features of Subic Bay, its beaches, and other tourist sites of Central Luzon,” Uy said.
The director also said that in recent talks with the airlines companies promise to more additional flights from Clark International Airport and establish connecting flights to the Middle East and Mindanao for tourism purposes in the region.
According to Uy, they are now holding the 1st regional Halal Stakeholder Congress in Central Luzon to cater to the sector and to boast of the local tourism industry.
“The holding of back-to-back seminars aims to promote awareness of the fundamental of halal-certified food industry and recognize their temporarily needs so that [Muslim tourists] will keep coming back in the country,” she said.
Uy says Muslim tourists have two major needs, namely to be understood and to not go hungry.
Earlier, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat toured the New Clark Global City to coordinate the department’s plan of action.
Romulo-Puyat visited the 20,000-capacity Athletic Stadium accompanied by Vince Dizon, president, and CEO of Bases Conversion Development Authority and architect Royal Pineda.
Dizon appreciated the visit of Romulo-Puyat to Clark City, the country 1st fully master planned area as the green and smart city of the 21st century in the country.
Meanwhile, the DTI is now visiting companies producing certified halal foods in the region to determine their compliance as required by the Bureau of Product Standards.
Warren Serrano, DTI spokesman, said halal being a religious matter under the purview of the Islamic Religious Organizations, the Bureau of Products Standard is very strict in labeling, handling and preparation rules because once passed it its approved for international standards for the global market.
The trade department has certificate 200 halal companies in the country, giving them access to the $150-billion global market.