GCC urged to intensify role in Islamic tourism

| 16/12/2007 | Reply
GCC urged to intensify role in Islamic tourism

 


(MENAFN – Arab News) Halal airlines and women-only hotels are just some
of the up and coming investment trends currently gaining global
popularity, according to a recently released global trends report
published by World Tourism Market (WTM)

|The
report also said Saudi Arabia and the Gulf should do more to promote
the Islamic tourism market and urged the region to take a more
assertive role in pursuing the wealth of investment opportunities in
the market, noting that “it is critical for Middle Eastern countries to
take concrete steps to develop halal tourism internally.”

In the
past, due to Saudi Arabia’s strict religious rules prohibiting women
from checking in hotels or traveling without the presence of a male
family member or written consent from a male guardian, many investors
deemed it is a fruitless endeavor to invest in Islamic tourism with
only a minimal amount of women found to be traveling alone.

However,
in recent years, as Saudi women have taken a more decisive stance in
society and business ? currently worth an estimated SR27 billion and
holding up to 35 percent of the Kingdom’s bank accounts based on Saudi
Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) statistics (Kingdom’s central bank) ?
more companies in Saudi Arabia are adopting a halal-based business
strategy to cater to the needs of the Muslim female traveler and at the
same time creating a trend, many experts said.

Hans-Peter
Leitzke, managing director of the Rosewood Corniche in Jeddah ? Saudi
Arabia’s first hotel to offer a floor exclusively for women ? was
quoted as saying that “we designed our dedicated ‘Ladies Floor’ because
there is an increased demand for this kind of facility from Arab ladies
and female travelers as a whole, and the response so far underlines
this.”

Since the Rosewood opened its doors nearly four months
ago, the hotel has been receiving strong response from female guests
and added that they expected other hotels to follow the example in
supporting the growing trend.

” We are confident it will
establish the Rosewood Corniche as Saudi Arabia’s most sought-after
hotel for the discriminated female traveler. At the same time, I would
not be surprised to see more hotels here and the other parts of the
region opening ladies floors,” he said.

Apart from Arab ladies
themselves, Arab women’s organizations that need facilities to hold
events in privacy and cater to their special needs are also a
recognizable source of clientele, he added.

Nonetheless, not everyone is in agreement with the trend saying that it could cause some social problems in the future.

“Right
now we have segregation in schools and government offices as well as
restaurants, salons and see the advent of female-only shopping malls,”
Rogaya Sabban, a Saudi businesswoman, told Arab News.

“I think
applying Islamic principles to make things easier for Muslim women is a
must, however, one should remember not to go to the extreme,” she
cautioned.

Category: Middle East & Africa, Travel & Hospitality

Leave a Reply