Halal Tourism has finally come of age. The tourism industry has finally woken up to the potential that halal tourism industry holds, with 1.6 billion Muslims under it. The word halal refers to ‘Islamically permissible’. Halal tourism involves, serving halal food, having separate swimming pools, spa and leisure activities for men and women, cafés, lounges and restaurants that serve non-alcoholic drinks etc. Some of them even have private beaches exclusively for women, and mixed beaches for families where women can wear the Islamic swimming dress code and hang out with their families. Countries that promote halal vacations, makes the holiday experience for a Sharia abiding Muslim, a pleasant and memorable one.
The management consultancy firm AT Kearney estimate that the global halal market to be around US $2 trillion, underpinned by one of the fastest growing religions in the world.
In a study by the Singapore based research company Dinar Standard, the Muslim tourists globally represent a major niche market worth $126.1 billion in 2011 growing at a higher 4.8% through 2020, compared to global average of 3.8%.
The Muslim tourism market (US $126.1 billion) is 12.3% of the total global outbound tourism market in 2011, estimated at US $1,034 billion by the U.N. World Trade Organization (UNWTO). The Middle East and North Africa markets represents 60% of total global Muslim tourist outbound expenditure in 2011, with Saudi Arabia topping the list, followed by Iran, UAE, Indonesia and Kuwait.
Singapore based Crescentrating Pte Ltd., a company focused on the development of the halal friendly travel market segment worldwide, has come out with its ranking of the Top Halal Friendly Holiday Destinations for 2013.
Some of the ranking criteria for being the top halal friendly destinations for 2013 were, the level of halal food availability, halal certified restaurants, prayer facilities, halal friendly accommodation, family recreation and entertainment centers, etc, at the main tourist spots of the destination.
Malaysia with its vibrant, bustling, multicultural/multiethnic population, its diverse culture, tradition of impeccable hospitality and fusion of gastronomic creations, has made Malaysia a traveller’s delight. The lush green tropical landscape and stunning island resorts have made Malaysia one of the top rated destinations for holidays. It has also been rated as the No.1 on halal friendly destinations in the world among 10 member states of Organization for Islamic Co-operation (OIC) for 2013. Because of its easy access to halal food and prayer facility no matter where they are, be it a shopping mall or an airport, has made Malaysia the No.1 choice with an aggregate of 8.3 /10 points
The rise of Islamists in Egypt had sceptics consider if the Tourism industry would be hit in Egypt. But halal friendly tourism has paved its way into Egypt. A survey conducted by Ogilvy Noor, an international Islamic branding company, found that the halal market was worth $2.1 trillion last year, with halal tourism worth $100 billion. Egypt expects its halal tourists turning to family oriented activities, halal food, dry hotels, separate female recreational facilities and hotel rooms with prayer directions. During the month of Ramadan, muslim travellers may ask for special facilities during Suhoor. Egypt is considered one of the top destinations for halal tourism.
Keeping in mind the sensitivities of muslim tourists, several hotel groups in UAE, have announced the development of hotel chains complying with Islamic law. The Almulla Hospitality has announced its plans to open 150 Halal Hotels by 2015, not only in the Middle East but also in Europe and North America. The Jawhara Chain has sets it target on 25% Sharia compliant hotels in Dubai in the near future. With UAE becoming the Middle East’s most preferred tourist destination, halal tourism, will only add to the appeal.
Turkey, a nation that’s a beautiful blend of the East and the West. Situated strategically between the Europe and Asia,Turkey has considerable influence in the region. Though an Islamic country, liberalism is mostly in practice. A country that was the melting pot of civilization, has a lot to offer to the Tourist in terms of Historical and Archaeological. With many open air historical sites, and sea side resorts, Turkey is ranked as the 6th most favoured tourist destination in the World. It ranks 4th in the recent Top 10 Halal Destinations in the world, due to availability of halal food and other facilities favourable to the Muslim traveller.
Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry is estimated to be worth around 14.88 billion in 2012. Saudi Arabia is expected to welcome 15.8 million tourists by 2014, out of which business tourists and the hajj tourists will account for most of the tourism share, Saudi Arabia is still considered too conservative for western tourists. With the growing number of muslim tourists favouring halal tourist destinations, and with Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic code of conduct and practices, the country is Top 5 on the preferred list.
Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. It has 17,504 tropical islands with mesmerising white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Because of its location, geology and diverse landscape, the country boasts of fertile rice fields to rain forests and snow capped peaks. It is this diverse landscape, along with historical & cultural diversity that makes Indonesia a favoured destination fort tourists. From Jakarta, Bali to Sumatra and Java, Indonesia truly is a nature lover’s paradise. Being an Islamic nation, all cultural and food practices are centered around Islamic tradition. Indonesia ranks 6th on the Most Halal Friendly Holiday Destinations.
Morocco’s varied geography sets it apart from the rest of the African nations. Situated in the extreme north western tip of Africa, it’s amazing beaches, lush highlands, snow capped mountains, the expansive Sahara in a distance and haunting aura of the old cities, will capture a Traveller’s mind than any other. It’s a country “that travels within you“. What is striking about Moroccans is their tradition of hospitality, and their openness and willingness to share their culture. No matter where you are , in the mesmerising streets of Marrakesh, or the beautiful lanes of Casablanca, there are story tellers everywhere, willing to share the exoticism and mysticism that has long bound Morocco to the world. Along with a surge in Morocco’s tourism industry, Morocco’s predominantly Islamic culture and tradition makes it one of the most preferred among halal tourists as well.
Jordan, the land of mesmerizing beauty and diversity. The imposing Petra never leaves one mind, when one’s thoughts travel to this mystical land. From the amazing sand castles to the haunting Wadi Rum, Jordan is truly a land of superlatives. The Red Sea and the Dead Sea enthralls every visitor who longs to bathe in them and indulge in the myriad spa facilities that the resorts provide . The Dead Sea coastline with its beautiful natural and spiritual aura, attracts tourists from far and wide. Its soothing, high salt content and buoyancy makes it very easy to float for a swimmer. Jordan’s rich and varied history and remnants of ancient civilization has made it one of the most favoured destinations worldwide. No wonder then that it is placed No. 8 on Halal Holiday Destination.
The Sultanate of Brunei is a very small but extremely wealthy nation thanks to its oil and gas reserves. A large part of the country is covered with lush rain forests. With both natural and cultural heritage to boast of, Brunei offers the best of luxury and relaxation. With its modern lifestyle and facilities, it is able to offer natural and material world to the weary traveller. Brunei is an Islamic country. Sale of Alcohol is banned and selling meat that is not halal is also banned. No wonder then that Brunei too has made it to the top 10 halal friendly holiday destinations.
Qatar is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, thanks to large natural gas reserves & petroleum. In recent years it also has taken the center stage for tourism. It is a much preferred luxury travel destination, with many top brand hotels vying for space. Qatar Race & Equestrian Club attracts visitors from far and wide to watch races and show jumps. Being an Islamic country, Qatar has ,this year been rated No.10 on the halal holiday destination for 2013.
ARABIAN GAZETTE’S PERSONAL FAVOURITES : Morocco for the mysticism of Marakkesh, Jordan for the Dead Sea and Petra, and Indonesia for its tropical green! What’s yours? Let us know in the comments.