Cape Town is gearing for an influx of Muslim tourists from the Middle East, who are spending Ramadan in a cooler climate with shorter days, making the day-time fasting more palatable, according to Cape Town Tourism. Muslim tourists spend $126 billion globally per annum.
Ramadan starts on Saturday 28 June and continues until 27 July. In this period Muslims are not allowed to eat nor drink any liquid during the daytime, they pray more, read the Qu’ran, and attend special services in mosques.
Cape Town has the largest Muslim community in South Africa, and our country is regarded as the second most Muslim-friendly globally, a survey has found. Muslim tourists require Halaal food, reasonable accommodation prices, and Muslim-friendly experiences in the cities they visit. This tourism segment is lucrative, in its fast growing population, and its tourism numbers are expected to exceed those of some of Cape Town’s source markets by 2020.
Cape Town has a strong Muslim history, its local Cape Malays coming from Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India, their forbears having been brought to Cape Town as slaves by the Dutch East India Company. The Muslim community is particularly visible in the colourful houses in Bo-Kaap, in which about 6000 Muslims live, an area dating back to the 16th century. Athlone and District Six are also home to local Muslim residents. The area is well-known for its Halaal restaurants (including Biesmiellah and Mezbaan Restaurant at the Hilton), halaal fast food outlets, and a Cape Malay cooking school called Lekka Kombuis), and offers accommodation (the Hilton hotel, and Cape Town Lodge), and attractions linking to the Muslim heritage and traditions. The One&Only Cape Town in the V&A Waterfront has successfully focused on the Middle East tourism market to counter the seasonal dip in the winter months.
There are nine mosques in Bo-Kaap alone, and more in the city centre. Muslim dishes such as mince or vegetarian samoosas, falooda, and boeber are popular to eat after sunset during Ramadan. Halaal meals, without alcohol being served, are also available at On the Square at The Capetonian, the Westin Grand Hotel, La Playa Café in the V&A Waterfront, Bismillah Restaurant in Sea Point and Gatesville, Hartley’s Buffet in Wynberg, the Golden Feather Spur in Vangate Mall, Kaprinos Restaurant at Northgate, St Elmo’s in Mitchell’s Plain, Snoekies in Hout Bay, Simply Asia in Kenilworth, Ocean Basket in Vangate Mall, Mugg & Bean in Vangate Mall, all branches of Kauai; La Rocca in Canal Walk, Zaika Tandoor in Rondebosch East, Roman’s Pizza, DeKapo Restaurant in Mouille Point, F.east in Long Street, Food Asia, Eastern Food Bazaar, Taj Mahal in Hout Bay, Dodge City Diner in Rondebosch East, Burger King, Mumbai Café in Rylands, Bo-Kaap Kombuis, and more.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage