NZ: University of Waikato to Host Halal Tourism Symposium

High-level government, tourism and academic professionals from New Zealand and overseas will gather in Hamilton at the end of April to discuss the potential and development of halal tourism in New Zealand.

The inaugural symposium, to be held at the Novotel Tainui Hotel on Wednesday, April 30, is a new initiative put together by the University of Waikato’s Institute for Business Research in collaboration with the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), the University of Canterbury’s College of Business and Law, Ministry of Business Employment and Innovation, Inside Tourism, Tourism Industry Association New Zealand, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism and Aotea Souvenirs.

Its purpose is to connect New Zealand with trade opportunities in halal tourism and hospitality, and more than 100 key members from the government sector, the tourism and hospitality industry, airlines, and academics interested in the field, have been invited to attend the one-day event.

The symposium will address three areas of halal tourism and hospitality; the opportunities and challenges, the role and contribution of stakeholders, and the positioning of New Zealand as a favourable halal tourism destination.

Halal tourism, a form of religious tourism whereby destinations provide services which comply with Islamic beliefs and practices for their Muslim visitors, has the potential to bring a wealth of economic benefit to New Zealand according to FIANZ President, Doctor Anwar Ghani.

Ghani says this is the first opportunity for New Zealand to initiate, discuss and plan a collaborative effort in tapping into the growing lucrative market from the Middle East, Malaysia, Indonesia and other regions.

“We already have a huge advantage for successful halal tourism and hospitality in this country due to our strong offering of great food, great scenery and our ability to provide a peaceful and secure environment for these visitors to enjoy,” he says.

“The only thing lacking is the effective way of promoting these packages to this market and that will be a major focus at the symposium. Developing effective strategies to promote these packages has the potential to increase outbound tourism expenditure and have a positive impact on the local GDP as well,” he says.

It is estimated that there will be 69 million outbound tourist arrivals generated from the Middle East in 2020, according to the Tourism 2020 Vision forecasts of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

This represents an average annual growth rate of 6.7% over the period 1995-2020, which is above the global average. Figures also show that travellers from the Arab Gulf countries spend $20 billion on vacations every year, led by Saudi tourists whose expenditure tops $8.5 billion.

Institute for Business Research Director, Associate Professor Asad Mohsin, says there is currently a significant number of students from the Gulf countries studying at the University of Waikato.

“This represents an excellent opportunity to promote halal tourism and hospitality packages of the Waikato region to their family and friends,” he says.

*This article was originally published on Arab News on 20 March 2014. Read the original article here.

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