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INSO Throws Weight Behind Halal Tourism

Following the announcement last week of the designing of an Iranian halal symbol, the Iranian National Standards Organization essentially declared its support for plans to promote Iran as a halal destination.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday after the signing of an agreement with Armenia to cooperate in the area of Halal industries, INSO chief, Nayyereh Pirouzbakht, said, "It's time we plan for the development of halal industries, particularly in the field of tourism," Khabaronline.ir reported.

"We need to think beyond the food sector," she added. Halal tourism is a relatively new branch of tourism officially recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, which provides Muslims with special tourism programs.

It is geared toward Muslims who would like products and services to conform to their religious values while on vacation, including restaurants with a halal menu and an alcohol-free environment. Other services include segregated swimming pools, prayer rooms and a regular announcement of prayer times.

A 142-billion-dollar industry, halal tourism could help jumpstart Iran’s economy by tapping into the massive global Muslim community. With more than 1.6 billion Muslims in over 100 countries and the fact that Muslims are increasingly taking up traveling, halal tourism offers huge prospects.

Whereas other countries have only recently started paying attention to the lucrative market of halal tourism and invested substantial amounts of money into the sector, Iran has all it needs thanks to its laws that comply with Islamic teachings.

Critics say advertising Iran as a halal destination is meaningless precisely because the governing laws are Islamic. Some even say by promoting Iran as a halal vacation spot, tourists may be wrongfully led to believe that there is such a thing as non-halal tourism in the country. While tourism officials and other supporters of the scheme agree that "everything in Iran is halal," they argue that what Iran has failed to do so far is market itself as a halal destination, which may help draw more tourists from Muslim and non-Muslim countries.


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