Chubu Airport will open prayer rooms and offer halal foods for Muslim travelers to coincide with the start of a new route to Malaysia, Central Japan International Airport Co. announced March 4.
“(Malaysia) is a region full of vitality, and we have great expectations that the number of visitors from there will increase,” said Kenichi Suzuki, director of the company’s sales promotion planning division. “I hope to make the airport a place that Muslim people will look forward to visiting again.”
According to officials, the airport will open a prayer room on the second floor of the terminal building on March 17, the first day of the new route to Malaysia. The carpeted 20-square-meter space will have an arrow on the ceiling pointing toward Mecca, the holiest city in Islam.
A similar facility will be set up in the international departure area on the third floor in April, the officials said.
Narita, Kansai, New Chitose and other airports in Japan have similar prayer spaces for Muslims, the officials said.
Because Islamic law bans the consumption of alcohol and pork, some restaurants in the Chubu Airport terminal building will feature menus with items that do not contain such ingredients.
The start of the new services is in line with the opening of budget carrier AirAsia X’s new route linking the airport with Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, a country where Muslims account for 60 percent of the population.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of visitors from Malaysia last year rose by 35.6 percent from the previous year to a record 176,500, thanks to easier requirements for tourist visas and Malaysia’s steady economic growth.
Chubu Airport has had only one route to the Islamic world–flights to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, offered by the country’s Etihad Airways.
*This article was originally published on The Asahi Shimbun on 5 March 2014. Read the original article here.