The $2.6-trillion halal industry is quickly growing, projected to quadruple in size in the next ten years. Now, the Subic-Clark corridor is in a unique position to tap into this global market not only due to its international gateways, tourism offerings, and manufacturing capabilities but also due to its role as the main staging area of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
What is ‘halal’?
‘Halal’ is a standard of quality prescribed for Muslim people. It refers to what is permissible to be consumed, and, while it is often referenced in the preparation of food and beverages, it also covers other products, including apparel, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. One in four people in the world today follow halal guidelines, and this figure is expected to increase to one in three people by 2050, according to a report by the Global Muslim Travel Index.
SEA Games preparation
Three of the 11 participating countries in the 2019 SEA Games—Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia—have Muslim majorities, and another five, including the Philippines itself, have significant minority populations. With the Subic-Clark corridor playing host to more than half of the Games’ events, various national and local agencies, namely the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development (SCAD), the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, the Clark Development Corporation (CDC), the Clark International Airport Corporation, the Angeles City Government, and the Greater Clark Visitors Bureau, have been working together to prepare for the halal needs of the thousands of athletes, officials, and spectators expected to arrive.
As early as September of last year, through the initiative of SCAD, the Halal Tourism Stakeholders Forum was held to orient chefs, restaurateurs, and hoteliers from the Subic and Clark metropolitan areas on the concept of halal. In November, the DOT-organized Regional Halal Stakeholders Congress took place with attendees from all over Central Luzon. Then, in January of this year, the Food Safety and Halal Awareness Seminar was cosponsored by SCAD and CDC to provide a venue to discuss the detailed requirements for halal certification.
DOT from its end has calendared continuous seminars for gateway front liners and local chefs in the first quarter of the year. In addition, the department is preparing for the first ASEAN Halal Expo, which will take place in Clark and coincide with the SEA Games. All regional offices of the department will participate by bringing in their certified suppliers to make sure halal products are available for the whole duration of the Games. Meanwhile, DTI is now touring halal-certified companies in Central Luzon to determine their observance as required by the Bureau of Product Standards.
Eyeing the industry’s rise
The 2019 SEA Games are a great opportunity to showcase the tourism offerings of the Subic-Clark corridor and the Philippines as a whole, not to mention our renowned hospitality and increasingly popular cuisine. The preparations being made are foreseen to continue bearing fruit long after the Games have concluded as the corridor gears up to welcome more tourists from Muslim countries.
Clark International Airport already hosts daily international flights from two hubs in the Middle East via Emirates and Qatar Airways. AirAsia, meanwhile, has expressed its commitment to provide better connectivity from its Southeast Asian network.
A growing pool of entrepreneurs is rising up to the challenge, serious in intent to set up halal-certified tourism establishments in the corridor. For instance, the Mirej Resort Hotel in Clark aims to be the first-ever green hotel with a halal-certified restaurant when it opens this September.
However, tourism is not the only industry sector expected to be impacted by the rising demand for halal products. Manufacturers and exporters of food, apparel, and personal care products are also encouraged to look into the significance of the global halal market in their businesses. Clark locator La Rose Noire, for example, is an exporter of bakery and pastry products that have been halal-certified for six years.
Significance of halal
Halal certification should not be thought of as merely a marketing tool for entrepreneurs. It is a guarantee of quality, safety, and cleanliness, specifically in the process of production. It abides by the Philippine National Standards and the ASEAN General Guidelines, as well as the International Code of Practice on Food Hygiene. Moreover, in light of the SEA Games to be held in our country, it is an expression of our gracious hospitality to our visiting neighbors.