Besides cultural differences, what makes it more uncomfortable for a Muslim travelling in a non-Muslim country is the lack of Halal-observed foods. To address such concern, while increasing tourists at the same time, the Kansai International Airport aims to become a Muslim-friendly airport. One of its food shops is Halal-certified and also considers including prayer rooms.
The U-don, a self-service udon shop in Terminal 1 of Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, was Halal-certified by the Malaysian Halal Consultation & Training in July. The noodle shop serves Sanuki udon, a famous noodle soup in Kagawa Prefecture, previously known as Sanuki Province. Besides the Halal-certified shop, the airport will also have 16 of its shops exclude pork and alcohol in their menu. “We are planning to become Japan’s first Muslim-friendly airport,” said Akihisa Tabe, the airport’s General-Manager of the retail management and commercial marketing department.
Kansai International Airport also aims to be the favoured port of entry for Muslims coming to Japan. From 2011-2012, the airport accommodated 70% more tourists from Indonesia, home of the world’s largest Muslim population. Japan also wants to increase tourists from Southeast Asian countries. Low-cost airline carriers and less visa requirements have helped the country gain more visitors from the region, where the middle-class population have increased their economic situations. In 2012, 780,000 of tourists coming to the country were from Southeast Asia. By 2016, the government intends to increase that number to 2 million. From January until July this year, Indonesian tourists have already increased by 43.1 percent from the same time period of the previous year. As for Malaysian tourists, there was an increase of 17.5 percent.