Halaal Tourism becoming a lucrative industry
By Shezna Shums
Halaal tourism is now becoming increasingly popular and is considered a lucrative market as research shows that this segment has a huge spending power.
The Halaal tourist at least spends twice the average of the normal traveller. This was one of the pointers highlighted at a presentation on Halaal Friendly Tourism organised by Crescentrating & Utopia Vacations last Tuesday (12).
|A section of the audience listening to the lecture on Halaal tourism|
During the presentation on ‘Halaal friendly travel market’ by CEO Fazal Bahardeen Crescentrating & Utopia Vacations stated that by 2050 approximately over 60 percent of the world’s under 18 year olds, will be Muslim and research suggests that these consumers will keep to their Islamic values and will want appropriate products.
Under the topic ‘The next generation of consumers and the changing landscape’ it was shown that Muslims as a share in the world population which was approximately 23.4 percent had grown to be 24.9 per cent in 2010 and it was estimated to touch 26.4 per cent in 2030.
The growth of the Halaal market place first saw Halaal foods become a vital part of this segment, after which Halaal finance is now becoming an important factor, and the latest industry to face this demand was the travel and hospitality industry.
Bahardeen also explained that tourists from the Middle East amount to eight percent of the outbound travel when compared to the percentage of outbound travels of other tourists from the year 2000 to 2009.
This way, the world average was two percent, while the Americas amounted to one percent, Europe two percent, Asia and Pacific five percent and Africa 6.5 percent.
The tourism expenditure as a share of Muslim travellers for 2010 was US $ 90 billion. Muslim travellers are expected to grow by 12 to 15 percent by the year 2020.
In attracting Muslim travellers several countries are making arrangements that suit the life styles of this segment.
Countries such as Germany, Australia, Switzerland and France as well as others have made changes to accommodate this segment. Such changes include an Islamic prayer room in the Munich International airport, some hotels becoming Halaal friendly, serving Halaal foods etc.
It was also noted that European countries are attracting Arab tourists during the summer holidays in the Middle East and special arrangements are being made to suit this segment’s needs especially as the next six years will see summer vacations falling during the month of Ramadhan-fasting.
Some of the subjects of concern are — having a prayer room, wudhu (washing before prayer) facilities, fasting services and facilities, non Halaal activities among others. Crescentrating Pte Ltd. of Singapore in its efforts to aid this growing market of Muslim travellers, set out in 2007 to provide a portal from which an individual with such unique needs can obtain information about hotels and tours that are available.
The resulting web travel portal and rating aims to reflect the facilities which hotels and resorts can provide in accommodating the needs of the Muslim.
This would range from prayer facilities and information, to Halaal food and recreational activities that are suitable to them.
Currently the web portal and its social media outlet draw a considerable amount of interest, especially among the Middle Eastern market. This is amply illustrated by the fact that the Crescentrating already has over 52,000 fans on its Facebook domain and with its network followers growing by the day.
Given the rapid growth that is taking place in the tourism sector in Sri Lanka, Crescentrating along with its local partner Utopia Vacations is working towards educating the local hotel industry about the rapid growth of Muslim travel segment and what local establishments could do in order to attract these high spending consumers.
It was noted that tapping into these lucrative markets was not an easy task, since it involved identifying and catering to the unique needs of tourists from these regions.
Taking the Middle Eastern Market in particular would involve looking at the unique demographic profile of tourists from this region.
It has been identified that a significant component is likely to be of the Muslim faith and as such have special requirements concerning ‘Halaal food’ and recreational facilities, among other things.
This subject is not only relevant to Sri Lanka but across the globe and Muslim travellers contribute nine percent of the total tourist expenditure amounting to US $ 9 billion.
At Crescentrating, they have a rating system for hotels and other establishments, a travel portal for the Muslim segment as well as do research, consultancy and training.
The travel industry urges that more attention be paid to this segment as Halaal tourists as a consumer market is one quarter of the world’s population, having a set of unique and basic needs. More than 1/3rd of the addition i.e. 1.4 billion population growth between 2010 and 2030 will fall into this consumer group.
Apart from food and finance, the travel industry will have major opportunities and destinations and if the industry understands this dynamic market early it could reap vast benefits.