A fresh trend is making its presence felt in the global tourism revival, and it is one you might be familiar with without knowing.
From Bali’s euphonious call to prayers in its famous beach resorts to Spain’s historical cities revealing their Moorish past—Halal Tourism is becoming an irresistible force, reshaping the landscapes of global tourism.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Muslims pack their bags and visit new destinations where they can unwind and discover the beauty of new cities. However, travelling to a new location as a Muslim can be quite challenging for many people who are not comfortable with the choices of entertainment on offer at traditional resorts.
As the number of Muslim-travellers continue to increase annually, the global tourism industry has found itself morphing to adapt, bringing forth a whole new holiday concept to serve the 2 billion strong Muslim population.
Breaking down ‘Halal Tourism’
Halal tourism is a subset of tourism geared towards Muslim families who abide by the values of Islam.
The term “halal,” Arabic for “permissible,” signifies more than just food prepared according to Islamic law. It extends to every aspect of life, including leisure activities, hospitality services, and business ethics.
Halal tourism, therefore, means services and facilities devoid of non-Islamic activities or substances, such as alcohol, and offering features like prayer facilities, halal food, and separate swimming pools or spa facilities for men and women.
The growth of this specific sector corresponds with the rise in disposable income among the global Muslim population, coupled with a broader demographic trend towards faith-based ethical consumption.
According to a report by the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), Muslim travel spend is projected to reach $300 billion by 2026, up from $180 billion in 2019. The sector now accounts for 12% of global travel expenditure, highlighting its burgeoning potential.
Driven by efforts to elevate tourism in places like Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia, and the rejuvenation of historical sites, the demand for halal travel is on an upward trajectory.
As more destinations within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) embrace halal tourism, the discovery of enticing treasures tailored for Muslim tourists is becoming increasingly commonplace.
The forthcoming generation of Muslims, as they join the workforce, is predicted to play a pivotal role in directing the future expansion of this sector, according to a recent report by UnivDatos Markets Insights.
Countries hopping on the trend
Leading the charge in this sector are countries with substantial Muslim populations, like Malaysia and Indonesia.
However, non-Muslim-majority countries are also jumping on the bandwagon.
Japan, for instance, has strived to become more Muslim-friendly, hosting “Muslimah Fashion Shows” and bolstering its halal-certified food industry. Spain, with its rich Islamic history, has developed halal tours in cities like Granada and Cordoba, reviving its Moorish past for visitors.
Yet, it’s Türkiye that’s leading the pack, recognised as the world’s most Muslim-friendly travel destination by the GMTI.
From its Ottoman-era mosques to halal beach resorts along the Aegean Sea, Türkiye exemplifies the potential of halal tourism. Beyond the traditional touristic offerings, the country excels in providing Islamic financial services, halal cosmetic shops, and fashion outlets with modest clothing.
The GMTI report, released annually, analyses data from over 140 countries around the world for insights into which destinations are best fit for the growing Halal travel segment.
However, halal tourism isn’t just about catering to a niche audience, but it’s about embracing diversity in the tourism sector. The increasing interest from both Muslim-majority and non-Muslim-majority countries to tap into this market underlines the appeal and commercial viability of the concept.
As the Muslim middle class continues to grow, and as the world becomes more interconnected, the industry is expected to see an exponential rise, providing significant opportunities for destinations worldwide.