The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, delayed by a year, is well underway.
While no international tourists are allowed to travel for the Games, Japan’s efforts in readying itself to welcome Muslim guests for last year’s scheduled Olympics won’t be wasted, as pent-up demand means that Muslim travellers are eagerly waiting for borders to re-open.
Speaking to Halaluxe last year in the run-up to the Summer Olympics, the Honourable Koike Yuriko, Governor of Tokyo, shared some of the city’s more notable efforts to make Tokyo welcoming to Muslim athletes and guests.
Among them were educating tourism and hospitality players on providing services and facilities that are aligned with the Islamic values. Her office, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, also published a Muslim traveller guidebook.
The guidebook included lists of halal restaurants, Muslim-friendly souvenir shops, mosques and Muslim-friendly tourism products. Mohamed Nazeer, Director of Japan Halal Foundation (JHF) that helped audit the guidebook says, “There is massive potential in the emerging Muslim-friendly tourism and the halal market. I think Tokyo recognises this and it has been steadily enriching its halal initiatives to capture this market segment.”
He pointed out how since 2015 Taito Ward, where JHF is based and home to popular tourist attractions such as Ueno and Asakusa, began encouraging businesses to adopt halal. “The ward began providing subsidies to companies, restaurants and the F&B industries – reimbursing 50% of the cost of certification,” shared Nazeer.
Recently, in anticipation of the reopening of its borders to international tourists, Japan announced that it will open a Japan National Tourism Organization Office (JNTO) in Dubai in the second half of 2021 in order to attract more visitors from the Middle East.Together, efforts like those by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Taito Ward and Japan Halal Foundation offer a fertile ground for Japan to capture Muslim travellers once borders reopen.