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Eastern Visayas embraces cultural inclusivity towards Muslim-friendly tourism

The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Eastern Visayas has taken a significant step towards promoting inclusivity and cultural appreciation in the tourism sector through a Muslim-friendly tourism orientation at the Oriental Leyte Hotel on March 5, 2024.

This initiative aimed to provide tourism establishments, tourism officers, and other stakeholders with essential insights into catering to the needs of Muslim travelers while promoting understanding and respect for their culture and faith-based behaviors.

Journey towards collaboration

DOT Undersecretary Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar took the lead in introducing cultural sensitivity, halal-friendly accommodations, and essential services to enrich the experience of Muslim tourists in Eastern Visayas.

In her keynote address, she expressed optimism about the region's cultural and culinary tourism potential and stressed the importance of collaboration to offer diverse products and services to the Muslim community.

Abubakar declared, "This orientation marks the start of multiple collaborations with your region," underscoring the importance of implementing Muslim-friendly practices to create a welcoming atmosphere for all travelers.

DOT Undersecretary Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar discussed MC 2020-010, which focuses on promoting the Philippines as a preferred Muslim-friendly destination. (Photo: PIA Leyte)
Highlights of orientation

The event highlighted the fundamentals of halal, the guidelines on operations, the recognition of Muslim-friendly accommodation establishments, the global halal economy, and halal certification technicalities, among other topics.

This focus is evident in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023-2028, which aims to improve the country's tourism industry. The region is progressing toward becoming a friendly destination for Muslim travelers by providing services and amenities catering to their needs.

According to Abubakar, embracing Muslim-friendly practices ensures that all travelers feel welcome and accommodated, regardless of their cultural or religious background. She emphasized that inclusivity is essential for enhancing the overall tourism experience.

“Natutuwa po ako kasi kakaiba po ang preparasyon na ginawa ng DOT Region 8, talaga pong nakikita po natin na mayroon po talagang touch ng pagkamuslim yung decorations and all; kaya po na tutuwa ako. Maraming salamat kay Regional Director Karina Rosa S. Tiopes,” Abubakar said.

(I am delighted because the preparation done by DOT Region 8 is unique; we can see the Muslim touch. The decorations and everything are well-placed, and that's why I am happy. Many thanks to Regional Director Karina Rosa S. Tiopes.)

Joaleo Shahid L. Linzag, head of the Halal Certification Department of the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines, discussed the fundamentals of Halal during the Muslim-friendly tourism orientation at the Oriental Leyte Hotel on February 5, 2024. (Photo: PIA Leyte)
Regional Director Karina Rosa S. Tiopes of the Department of Tourism 8 cordially welcomed the guests and participants of the Muslim-friendly tourism orientation. Her warm greeting set the tone for the event, creating an inviting atmosphere for all attendees. (Photo: PIA Leyte)
Emerging Muslim-friendly destination

The Philippines has been recognized as the "Emerging Muslim-Friendly Destination of the Year" at the Halal in Travel Global Summit 2023 in Singapore for its dedication to promoting Muslim-friendly tourism.

This award validates the country's commitment to showcasing its rich culture and heritage to Muslim travelers worldwide by strategically developing its halal tourism portfolio.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco expressed her delight in this achievement, highlighting its opportunities to introduce the Philippines' diverse culture and breathtaking destinations, such as Mindanao, to the global Muslim community.

Tourism stakeholders’ support

Maria Lordez Ludette Ruiz, owner of the travel and tour company Leyte Golf and the president of the association of Leyte operators, mentioned that catering to Muslim-friendly tourism is a big step, considering that it will open up a new market for them. However, they need to discuss it and set up a plan to offer certified halal products and accommodations.

Juliana Maaghop, a regional tour guide, realized the need to be sensitive in various aspects, including language use, food selection, and menu offerings. She is committed to honing her cultural awareness and ensuring that her tours are inclusive for all visitors.

She emphasized the importance of discussing tourist attractions, particularly accommodations, with extra sensitivity when broaching religion-related topics.

Eastern Visayas is leading the way in promoting Muslim-friendly tourism, setting an example of cultural inclusivity and cooperation, and creating a more welcoming and fulfilling travel experience for everyone. 

By providing an orientation, the region demonstrates its dedication to embracing diversity and facilitating meaningful connections between travelers from different backgrounds. (AAC, PIA Leyte)

About the Author

Aaron Cotejar

Information Officer

Region 8

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