• Nna/kyodo

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Three municipalities in Okayama Prefecture have launched a joint project to promote Muslim-friendly tourism in the region, initially targeting travelers from Malaysia with the help of a local travel agency.

A memorandum of understanding on the “Okayama-Style Health Tourism Project” was signed Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur by officials from the city of Okayama, the town of Kibichuo and the city of Maniwa with Corporate Information Travel Sdn. Bhd.

Under the MOU, the travel agency, based in the Malaysia capital, will help the municipalities promote tourism to Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia.

The MOU, effective from January 2017 to March 2021, is expected to help attract 240 to 480 Muslim visitors to Okayama Prefecture next year, Okayama Mayor Masao Omori said after sealing the deal.

“With this project, we will make Okayama a more Muslim-friendly destination for travel, lifestyle and work,” he added.

The city of Okayama has many facilities friendly to Muslim travelers, including a mosque in the city center and prayer rooms at many hotels, while the neighboring town of Kibichuo has the first all-halal bakery in Japan, Omori said.

“There are five to six organizations promoting halal products in Japan, but only two of them are certificated by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia,” said Naoko Tahara, representative director of Aalam Japan Bakery.

According to Tahara, there are about 700 to 800 Muslims staying in Okayama Prefecture, but it is necessary to provide more Muslim-friendly facilities to meet the needs of followers of Islam.

The Japanese officials were in Kuala Lumpur as part of a tourism-promoting trip that will also take them to Indonesia later in the week.

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