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Queensland catering to Middle Eastern market

Wooing Middle Eastern tourists in Queensland

Aug 17, 2010

A Ramadan evening lounge where Muslims can meet after a day's fasting will open in a premier Gold Coast hotel on Monday in a bid to woo more visitors from the Middle East.

With tourist numbers from Japan well down for a number of years, the Middle East is being targeted as the market with the strongest growth potential for the tourist strip.

Ramadan, in which Muslims express their faith by fasting for a month during daylight hours, began on August 11 and will last until September 9.

Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor said the lounge was a joint initiative of Tourism Queensland, Gold Coast Tourism and the Courtyard Marriot Hotel.

"The Gold Coast Ramadan evening lounge will run three days a week during holy Ramadan, the ninth month on the Muslim calendar, during which a strict fast is observed from sunrise to sunset," Mr Lawlor says.

"In 2009 Queensland welcomed 20,500 visitors from the Middle East and North Africa, and Tourism data also shows that Middle Eastern visitors to Australia contributed $573 million to the Australian economy over the past year."

Gold Coast Tourism chief executive Martin Winter said the area's popularity with Middle Eastern visitors was no accident.

"They've been welcomed by the Gold Coast for many years now, and we are pleased to further the relationship with the opening of the Gold Coast Ramadan Lounge in addition to our established cultural activities including the Muslim Visitors Guide," he says.

Mr Lawlor said many Gold Coast tourism operators including theme parks, restaurants and hotels already catered to the Middle Eastern market by offering Halal certified products, prayer rooms and mats and copies of the Koran.

Wooing Middle Eastern tourists in Queensland
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Source: AAP

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