Halal Group Established to Woo Muslim Tourists

In a bid to boost tourism from more predominantly Muslim countries, the Ministry of Commerce has established a special committee to oversee and standardize halal certifications for restaurants and butchers.

The ministry is working with representatives from Malaysia—a Muslim-majority country—to enact regulations around halal certifications, which will indicate that businesses are complying with Islamic practices, including slaughtering animals according to religious stipulations and avoiding banned food products.

Soeung Sophary, a Commerce Ministry spokeswoman, said the committee aimed to finalize the certifications by early next year at the latest.

“We have never had such a certification before, so this is an important starting point,” she said.

Malaysian representatives from both the public and private sectors will visit at the end of this month to give Cambodia technical support, Ms. Sophary added.

For halal restaurants already operating in the country, the new certification is likely to bring a period of adjustment. Sor Bolim, the general manager of Bopha Phnom Penh Restaurant, said his establishment, as it currently operates, would likely not meet the proposed standards.

“The whole restaurant is not halal. It only serves halal food. It would be great to have a different certificate to distinguish the difference,” Mr. Bolim said.

As about 2 percent of Cambodia’s population is Muslim, tourists currently have a difficult time finding halal food, he said.

“If we can promote halal food through the program, it is a good thing for everybody in the business.”

Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak, during a meeting in June with Ilhan Kemal Tug, the Turkish ambassador to Cambodia, said the certification would be a boost for attracting tourists and investors from the Islamic world, according a statement on the ministry’s website.


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