Indonesia's Bangka-Belitung Islands are poised to join the growing number of halal-friendly travel destinations around the world, with authorities in the province committed to assisting hotels and restaurants gain halal certification.
The Muslim market is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the travel industry, and the Indonesian islands look ready to join the list of destinations that tick all the relevant boxes: from beautiful beaches to the availability of halal food; tour guides that know to weave prayer breaks into itineraries; hotel suites and villas that offer complete privacy; and proximity to local mosques.
With figures from the 2018 Mastercard-Crescentrating Global Muslim Travel Index forecasting that this demographic will grow to 156 million visitors globally by 2020, it makes sense that more destinations are paving the way for halal-friendly travel. Here are five tropical spots to put on your bucket list:
Bangka-Belitung Islands, Indonesia
There’s no shortage of tropical islands in the archipelago of Indonesia. And while Bali, as the first Asian destination to be crowned world’s best tourist destination by TripAdvisor, might be top dog, the Bangka-Belitung Province is now one to watch. As well as an untouched coastline peppered with dramatic granite rocks, stunning natural flora and fauna, and vast stretches of uninhabited land, new plans to launch as a halal tourist destination mean that, before long, there will also be a host of halal-certified hotels and restaurants for travellers to enjoy.
Cocos Keeling Islands, Australia
Hundreds of metres of palm-fringed sands surrounded by azure waters teeming with marine life make Cocos Keeling Islands, off the coast of Western Australia, a logical choice for travellers searching for tropical island perfection. Home to Cossies Beach, named Australia’s best beach in 2016, this place has a predominantly Muslim population, meaning you won’t have to go too far to find halal-friendly food or hear the sound of the morning Azan. This place is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with red-tailed tropicbirds and rare chestnut-winged cuckoos calling the atolls home.
Rangali Island, Maldives
Known for its white beaches and colourful marine life, the Maldives is a destination that makes sense for Muslim travellers, with many of the islands offering halal-friendly accommodation. In the south atoll, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island offers villas that ensure complete pool and sunbathing privacy, as well as alcohol-free minibars and on-site mosque facilities. Spend your days relaxing at the over-water spa with uninterrupted Indian Ocean views, explore the surrounding dive sites or tuck into delicious fare, safe in the knowledge that most local dishes don’t include pork or alcohol.
Taiwan offers a feast for the senses, with bustling night markets, natural hot springs, mountains, forests and a plethora of halal-certified restaurants. There are also a handful of mosques dotted across the country, including the towering Taipei Grand Mosque. Sightseeing is made easy here since most of the country’s landmarks have been upgraded to include prayer rooms and ablution facilities. Make a beeline for Kenting on the country’s southern tip for white sandy beaches, intricate cave networks and a backdrop of craggy cliffs, as well as a bustling night market featuring halal-friendly food stalls.
Langkawi Island, Malaysia
Named top destination for Muslim travellers by the Global Muslim Travel Index eight years in a row, the Malaysian archipelago offers a wealth of halal options, and Langkawi Island is one of the nation’s most popular picks thanks to sandy shores and rainforest-cloaked vistas. The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, Langkawi, has halal-friendly menus and suites with a private pool or in-suite hot tub. For Friday prayers, Masjid al Istiqua is a short drive from the resort and a car can be arranged.