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Halal travel is spreading worldwide. Just as other traveller groups demand tailor-made services, Halal travellers too are very keen on maintaining their ethos when travelling abroad. The travel industry is becoming more and more aware of this phenomenon and what was once just a nice commercial niche to have, may soon turn into a must for travel providers.
The Halal traveller segment is expected to grow to 150 million visitors by 2020, up from 110 million today. It is anticipated that they will represent 11% of total global tourism.
Coupled with the fact that Muslim population growth is currently outpacing that of the general population and Muslim consumers are younger, have high buying power, and love to travel abroad with their families, it becomes clear that the travel sector has a flourishing business opportunity ahead.
The Amadeus-commissioned Halal Travel 2016research paper has found that Halal travellers are expecting a packaged end-to-end experience that is flexible and includes services at their destination. Given the existing preference for booking in advance, this might represent a way for travel providers to add sales and cross sell other products.
Europe’s top destinations for Halal travellers include the UK, France, and Spain. Many Halal travellers favour visiting the ancient Al Andalus’ splendour at the Spanish destinations of Cordoba and Granada. Marianella Bertini, General Manager at the Alhambra Palace Hotel, next door to the Alhambra, a medieval fortress and one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, has extensive experience in servicing these types of customers.
As an emerging economic force, the particular needs and preferences of Halal travellers provide the travel industry with the opportunity to create uniquely packaged experiences and destinations. Services should be based on factors such as human interaction, mutual trust and careful personalisation to accommodate these travellers’ preferences.
According to the growth strategy research and advisory firm the Dinar Standard, 37% of Halal tourism spend comes from travellers from the wealthy Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman. Another research report, launched by Amadeus in 2014 showed that the average spend per trip of Gulf residents travelling abroad was US $9,920 with as much as US $12,205 for Bahraini travellers.
The founder of a pioneering Halal-focused travel agency in Europe, Nabeel Shariff, Director of UK-based Luxury Halal Travel, is anticipating further development in the offer for this group of travellers.