Thailand's first halal hotel hopes to attract more Muslim visitors and boost one of the few bright spots in the country's economy. Laura Frykberg reports.
Tourism in Thailand is big business. But there is a gap in the market, that this hotel hopes to cater for. Al Meroz is entirely halal, a first for the country. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) AL MEROZ'S MANAGING DIRECTOR, SANYA SAENGBOON, SAYING: "There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. It's a huge market. Just one percent of that market is enough for us to thrive." Halal is an object or action permissable under Islamic law. The kitchen here falls under that rule. It forbids pork and alcohol - and meat not prepared by Muslim butchers. The four-star hotel also boasts mosque-like architecture and two prayer rooms. So far customers seem content. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN GUEST, AAMIR FAZAL, SAYING: "I feel more comfortable here. Everything is more halal… you can have like breakfast. We were in Phuket before in a resort, so it was a little hard to find halal food there, especially breakfast." Almost 30 million tourists travelled to Thailand last year. Most, not from countries where Muslims live. But more Muslims came last year than the year before. Perhap places like these will see that increase even further. Rooms cost from 4,000 baht all the way up to 50,000 - or from around $116 - to over $1,400 a night. A big bill maybe, but with 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, it's an even bigger market.