Published on : Tuesday, January 24, 2017
In a global assessment of travel destinations with best halal ecosystems, according to the 2016-2017 Global Islamic Economy Report by Thomson Reuters, the UAE ranked first. The UAE was followed by Malaysia and Turkey in global ranking system, which weighs up countries based on inbound Muslim travel, quality of halal-friendly ecosystems, awareness campaigns and this sector’s contribution to employment. In 2015, the Muslim travel market was estimated at $151 billion (Dh554.2 billion) and it’s growing steadily with year-on-year growth rate of 4.9%, which is higher than overall travel industry’s 3% growth.
Although halal tourism ecosystem is well-developed, in the UAE, this sector is still in its nascent stages. There has been limited focus by developers and the government on offering Halal-based products and services, despite the presence of alcohol-free hotels and dining outlets. According to Rashid Aboobacker, associate director at TRI Consulting, a hospitality consultancy, “As the tourism and hotel markets in the UAE mature, we expect to see developers identify more niche opportunities for Sharia/Halal-compliant accommodation and other tourism facilities in a bid to differentiate themselves again the competition and attract specific target markets.” Aboobacker said that he expects the halal tourism segment in the UAE to grow, as competitive forces will help the market expand, offering a wider product choice.
Travel is a large part of the halal industry, as it involves numerous responsibilities from the services provided in flights, food served in hotels and attractions, availability of prayer areas and women-only prayer areas in beach resorts. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are the principal markets for halal travel with an estimated consumption value of $34.3 billion. More and more Muslims are showing strong inclination for halal destinations and services. To quote Mohammad Badri, secretary general of the International Halal Accreditation Forum, “This upward trend presents good business opportunities for the industry. However, stakeholders should start addressing challenges to make the most of the momentum and boost tourism activities.” He said that the main challenges affecting this industry are weak awareness campaigns.