Dubai: Halal travellers poised to spend $200b

Khaleej Times

Economic growth in the Islamic world gives more spending power to Muslim consumers

The importance of “halal travellers” grows globally and this segment of tourism, which has certain unique requirements, is 12976251_798129753651542_418643432_nexpected to hit 150 million travellers with an estimated spending of $200 billion by 2020.

This was revealed by Amadeus at the Arabian Travel Market in a study called “Halal Travel 2016”. The research report gives an insight into the current needs and future expectations of this travel group.

Recent figures have shown that the halal tourism sector was valued at $145 billion in 2014, and is one of the fastest-growing travel segments in the world, growing at 4.8 per cent against the industry average of 3.8 per cent.

Economic growth in the Islamic world has given rise to a Muslim consumer who is, on average, younger, more educated and with a larger disposable income than before, giving rise to an increased propensity to international travel and holidays.

“Halal travellers are a demographic that represents a powerful opportunity. This is a group of individuals and families that have certain unique requirements of their destinations and travel service offering,” said Antoine Medawar, vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa at Amadeus.

The Amadeus-commissioned Halal Travel 2016 study uncovers some of the key areas that the industry can work with this segment on, as well as some of the additional offerings that will serve to enhance the customer’s travel experience, and thereby lead to higher spending.

The report on halal travellers highlights three core themes that span the key drivers of travel – cultural experiences, accommodation needs and activity preferences.

It says halal seekers plan their trip to maximise “cultural return on investment”. They often adopt a hyper-planning holiday mode and women have real influence in the travel experience, it added.

At their destination, halal travellers want to explore within their comfort zone. They have specific activity and excursion needs – in relation to transportation, praying facilities or dining.

Limited dining options are an issue for halal travellers – they want to have dining alternatives. Some of them want high end or gourmet options, but others want to be able to experience local cuisine in a Halal way.

They have special transportation needs at their destination – private drivers in particular appeal to husbands who are sometimes concerned about not looking an “expert” in a country and a private driver helps avoid this.

Other findings point to the influential role of women in the travel decision process, planning and some of the logistics; halal travellers wish to discover and unlock untapped destinations and a clear differentiation in travel preferences, depending on their kind of profile – comfort, explorer, core family, extended family, deal-seeker and simplicity-seeker.

Since halal travellers frequently originate from the Middle East region, there is a premium placed on human interaction, and travel agencies and tour operators and consultants play a key role in supporting the travel planning. The halal travellers’ motives and context need to be understood to create the right travel package, and this is particularly relevant when planning complex multi-destination trips. There is a clear preference for booking all travel, tours, and accommodation in advance, as families and groups do not favour the uncertainty of unplanned trips.