Sun, sand and halal: Muslim travellers spending more globally

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Sun, sand and halal: Muslim travellers spending more globally
The global halal tourism market continues to expand rapidly.

Dubai - Activity driven by sustained economic growth, significant rise in disposable income

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Published: Thu 17 Jan 2019, 7:09 PM

Last updated: Fri 18 Jan 2019, 10:11 PM

The global halal travel tourism market will keep on expanding over the coming years, as Muslim travellers feel more confident about exploring new locations that offer a variety of halal and family-friendly experiences, experts say.
"Driven by a sustained economic growth and a significant rise in disposable income of people in countries with large Muslim populations, the global halal tourism market continues to expand rapidly," said Sameer Bagul, executive vice-president and managing director of Cleartrip.Projected to reach $157 billion by 2020, he said that the Muslim travel sector is one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry worldwide.
"Indonesia, Malaysia, and Turkey are the leading halal travel destinations, and the UAE ranks one of the highest globally in halal tourism spending. In order to tap into this massive market, travel companies from around the world have been catering to the unique needs and requirements of consumers, including family-friendly environment, respect for culture, halal food, facilities to observe religious practices, as well as female-only areas in pools, spas and leisure facilities, among several others. As with any modern-day tourists, halal travellers also demand unique, authentic local experiences and want to explore new cultures, customs, and cuisines," he said.
According to a new study by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UAE residents are the world's highest spenders on halal tourism outside the country, spending over Dh64.6 billion in 2017. The study, which analyses recent data from Mastercard and the World Travel and Tourism Council, also showed that Saudi Arabian travellers were ranked second with Dh59 billion spend, followed by Kuwaiti travellers at Dh38.17 billion during the same period.
The study's findings further revealed that the global Muslim travel segment is currently valued at an estimated Dh660.6 billion and is forecast to reach Dh807.4 billion by 2020. The number of Muslim travellers globally is expected to increase from the current 131 million to 156 million by the same year. During 2017, Muslim travellers spent an estimated average of Dh5,042 per person and this figure is projected to increase to Dh5,174.7 by 2020.
Chris Nader, vice-president of development at Shaza Hotels, noted that while halal-friendly tourism is growing exponentially, there is still a shortage in hotel room supply to cater to the growing number of travellers.
"It is estimated that $300 billion will be spent on halal travel by 2030, and yet there is little supply when it comes to halal-friendly accommodation... some may only need to find halal food, while others may want prayer facilities, or need to make sure that entertainment in the hotel is suitable for families and respectful of their culture and values," Nader said.
He added: "We spent several years studying the market and developing a product that is authentic in its experience and contemporary in its delivery. Halal-friendly hotels should not be only about halal food and not serving alcohol; any hotel can do this... it is about privacy, experience, guest flow and respect."
Nader noted that the company also has plans to expand Malaysia and Indonesia, which rank first and second respectively among halal tourism destinations, according to Crescent Rating's Global Muslim Travel Index.
"We see great potential outside the GCC given the inbound markets feeding into these destinations. Turkey is today the leader in halal-friendly resorts, although none is branded by an international chain," he said.
According to the 'Global Economic Impact of Muslim Tourism and Future Growth Projection: 2017-2020' report by Salam Standard, total global outbound Muslim tourism expenditure is projected to develop from $101 billion in 2017 to $122 billion by 2020. The Middle East is by far the largest source market worldwide in this respect, contributing $62.2 billion in 2017 and forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2020, with a 59 per cent market share.
Travellers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the biggest spenders, with their share of the global total predicted to reach a staggering 41 pe cent by the end of the decade. GDP generated by Muslim travel plays a key role in the total tourism GDP per country, ranging from four per cent in Vietnam to 78 per cent of total tourism GDP in Saudi Arabia.
"The Muslim travel industry is a major contributor to tourism GDP for Muslim and non-Muslim countries around the globe, generating significant economic wealth, tax income and employment opportunities," said Faeez Fadhlillah, co-founder and CEO of Salam Standard and Muslim-friendly hotel booking portal Tripfez.
"With the sector forecast to continue its strong growth trajectory, driven by Asia and the Middle East where young and aspirational populations and an increasingly-affluent middle class are hungry to travel the world in a faith-compatible way, savvy destinations and travel companies around the world can capitalise on this market's untapped potential."

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