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    Jul 07, 2016

    More hotels go extra mile for Muslim guests

    TO CATER to a burgeoning number of Muslim travellers to Singapore, hotels here are installing prayer rooms, offering iftar room service menus and providing the qibla - or the direction to Mecca - in their guest rooms.

    This comes even as the number of halal-certified premises here has grown.

    The Muslim travel segment is one of the world's fastest-growing tourism sectors with an estimated 117 million travellers last year, representing close to 10 per cent of the entire travel economy globally.

    The number is expected to reach 168 million by 2020, with a market value exceeding US$200 billion (S$273 billion).

    Singapore welcomed 2.6 million Muslim travellers last year.

    They made up about 17 per cent of total arrivals.

    In February this year, Marina Mandarin Singapore installed permanent prayer rooms with ablution facilities near its halal-certified restaurant, for customers who need to break fast. It had temporary prayer rooms for Ramadan last year.

    Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford offered an iftar - or breaking of fast - in-room dining menu comprising Arabic mezze, lamb kebabs, briyanis, dates and fresh fruits during the recent Ramadan.

    This was first made available in 2014.

    Other hotels such as the Park Hotel Group, Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy and Royal Plaza on Scotts have qibla directions in their rooms, and offer prayer mats and the Quran upon request.

    "Indonesia and Malaysia comprise Singapore's top five source markets in 2015, and we recognise the increasing growth in this segment," said Tejveer Singh, group revenue director of Park Hotel Group.

    Meanwhile, the number of halal-certified premises here grew from 2,568 in 2012 to 3,112 last year, according to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis). The certified premises include dining establishments, caterers and product manufacturers.

    Muis also noted an increase in queries about halal-certified premises from non-Singaporean followers of its Twitter account.

    It gets at least one such query every week, compared with once every few months when the account was first launched four years ago, said a spokesman.

    A study released last month found that for the next five years, Singapore is expected to be the third most attractive destination for Muslim travellers during the fasting month of Ramadan, after Malaysia and Indonesia.

    Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive of CrescentRating, said: "The countries in this part of the world are competing for the same Muslim market. I expect to see more younger Muslim travellers (and) millennials who are looking for a different experience."