Cape Town - SANParks has approved the construction of wudhu and salaah facilities in Kruger National Park for Muslim visitors.
According to Radio Islam, Honorary Ranger Farouk Hassen sent a proposal to SANParks in 2009 which has been approved and has also been raising funds in the Muslim community for the construction of the facilities.
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Construction has already started in Skukuza, and will soon start in Lower Sabi, Satara, Tshokwane and Afsaal. There are also plans to build these facilities in other national parks.
Wudhu is the Islamic procedure for washing before prayers, or salaah, and handling the Qur'an. It normally involves washing not only the hands but many other body parts including the feet.
Hassen told Radio Islam that facilities will be used for the noon, or Zuhr, and afternoon, or Asr, prayers for visitors travelling between camps and day visitors.
Muslim tourism industry
According to the World Halal Tourism Summit which takes place in November, this fast growing tourism sector with travellers from the Gulf Arab states is valued at $15 billion, and is projected to double by 2026.
South Africa ranks 4th as the top destination worldwide for Muslim travellers, according to the Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index.
Besides praying facilities, the availability of Halaal food options is also an important factor for travelling Muslims, according to a 2015 survey by Muslim Travel Shopping Index. In order to tap into this market, agencies have started initiatives to help educate chefs and restaurants about what Halaal means and how they can widen their appeal to Muslim tourists.
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Cape Town Tourism for example has piloted a chef exchange programme where two chefs from Singapore did a workshop with 37 local chefs to learn more about Halaal gourmet cuisine. The Mother City has a large local Muslim community so it would make sense to build on that foundation.
"We have a strong local Muslim community and it is the City of Cape Town’s hope that we can continue to strengthen ties with international Muslim communities and welcome more visitors to our city. As an inclusive and opportunity city, we look forward to working with partners to grow this market to boost our tourism numbers all year round,” says Executive Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille.
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