MANILA, Philippines, Oct 3, (Agencies): Miss Universe representatives from Bahrain and Pakistan have joined forces in an initiative to boost halal tourism in the Philippines, as Manila aims to attract more visitors from the Middle East and Muslim-majority nations in pursuit of its tourism targets for the year.
The Philippines relies heavily on tourism, with a 2019 contribution of approximately $50 billion, equating to nearly 13% of the country’s GDP. However, this figure dipped to around 5% in 2020 and 2021 due to the global travel industry’s COVID-19-induced standstill.
As part of its strategy to rejuvenate the tourism sector, Manila is positioning itself as a Muslim-friendly destination. The involvement of Miss Universe representatives from Bahrain and Pakistan signifies the latest effort to bolster the promotion of halal tourism in the Philippines.
Tourism Undersecretary Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar stated, “The Department of Tourism is leveraging the presence of the Miss Universes from Bahrain and Pakistan to support and promote Muslim-friendly and halal tourism in the Philippines.”
Abubakar anticipates that the visit by the Miss Universe titleholders will significantly enhance the country’s appeal and ideally inspire the global Muslim community to explore the Philippines, famous for its white sand beaches, renowned diving sites, vibrant entertainment, rich cultural heritage, and unique wildlife.
With the Muslim travel market projected to reach a value of $225 billion by 2028, the Philippine government, in 2022, prioritized increasing foreign arrivals from the Middle East and Muslim-majority nations. Official data shows that the Philippines is well on its way to achieving its goal of welcoming 4.8 million foreign visitors this year, with more than 4 million already having arrived.
Earlier this year, the Philippines was honored with the Emerging Muslim-Friendly Destination of the Year award at the Halal in Travel Global Summit, recognizing its endeavors to attract global Muslim travelers.
The collaboration between the Department of Tourism, The Farm Resort, and Xpedition Middle East magazine further underscores this commitment to promoting halal and wellness tourism in the Philippines.
Miss Universe Bahrain, Lujane Yacoub, and Miss Universe Pakistan, Erica Robin, arrived in Manila recently as part of their preparation for Miss Universe 2023 in El Salvador this November. During their stay in the Philippines, they are poised to showcase the country’s beauty to the worldwide Muslim community.
Yacoub expressed her admiration for the Philippines, saying, “What the Philippines already has is this amazing diversity in wanting to welcome in many different places and even Muslim countries. It’s just an amazing place to be.”
Robin, too, voiced her enthusiasm for promoting the Philippines, stating, “It’s been just less than 24 hours, and the Philippines already feels like home… And we still have… a lot to explore, a lot to learn, a lot to share with the world what the Philippines has to offer.”
“I feel so honored and blessed to promote something that needs to be out for people to know. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to show the brighter side of your country that I’m sure every Muslim country would love to know,” Robin added.
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