Opinion: 16 trends to take note of when it comes to halal travel

The growth of halal travel is not slowing down, with Muslim travellers predicted to contribute US$300 billion to the global economy in the next decade, according to Mastercard and Crescent Rating. In the latest edition of the Halal in Travel Frontier Report, Mastercard and Crescent Rating listed 16 key trends that will shape halal tourism development in 2020.

Some of the key trends the report highlights are the growing importance of mobile wallets among Muslim travelers, the rise of Muslim women travelers, and the interest among Muslim travelers to seek out lesser popular tourist destinations. Check them out here.

1. Reframing of halal tourism for inbound markets

First and foremost, the report speaks about the reframing of halal tourism for the inbound market. There has been a rise in organisations trying to promote halal tourism in the past year, destinations which have been non-Muslim, might have faced obstacles due to the lack of awareness among stakeholders of what halal tourism is. Some local communities of the destinations fear the loss of local culture and heritage if halal tourism is promoted.

On the other hand, some destinations are keen on attracting and catering to the Muslim travel market but have reservations of adopting halal tourism with the worry of possibly alienating and driving away non-Muslim tourists. These issues give rise to a pressing need to redefine and reframe what halal tourism is to mitigate such obstacles. There is a need to reiterate to stakeholders that halal tourism ultimately emphasises an inclusive environment and does not refer to being Muslim-exclusive.

2. Future ready travel sector for Gen Z and Gen Alpha

This year will be significant for Gen Z Muslims as the enter the workforce as they will play a key role in determining the next phase of halal travel. Similar to their Gen Y or Millennial predecessors, Gen Z Muslims prefer travel experiences that are authentic, affordable and accessible.

However, they are also highly adaptable to different cultures and contexts and are able to successfully juggle their travel limitations. In this aspect, service providers and destinations need to be able to cater to the faith-based service needs of Gen Z. Gen Alpha probably first learnt to use their fingers to both point to objects as well as swipe smartphones.

Technology is deeply embedded with Gen Alpha. In this aspect, parents seeking a getaway will welcome destinations and services that can fulfil the needs of their Gen Alpha kids.

3. Umrah DIY: Tech innovation and the gold rush for behaviour data

Within this segment, there will be increasing competition to cater to the needs of those doing Umrah on their own. Technology will be key in facilitating multiple Umrah travel needs and touchpoints for this group. This includes learning about the customs, rituals and Umrah locations via 360-degree live video streams, receiving guided augmented tours via smartphones and sharing their experiences during Umrah via highspeed connections.

Pilgrims will also be connected to one another via traditional as well as crowdsourced news. As technology continues to advance and becomes more ubiquitous in the Umrah experience, it will help to create a more connected and better Umrah experience.

4. Muslim business travellers as service catalysts

The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector has been slow to respond to the growth of the Muslim market, especially the conference and exhibition segment. Most venues did not have the basic halal food or prayer space facilities. That is beginning to change now as the wave of Muslim travel influence is spreading to the MICE sector.

Driven by the growing number of Muslim business travelers to exhibitions and conferences, 2020 will continue to see a growth in halal-inclusive events and venues. Event and meeting planners are starting to integrate

5. Diversity guiding responsible content sharing

While the debate on whether social media companies and governments should play a more active role in policing online behavior continues, we do see the emergence of responsible content sharing of unique stories by diverse groups of people.

6. Towards a global travel wallet for travellers

Enabled by advancements in security features such as facial recognition and biometrics, e-wallets and mobile payments are rapidly growing in popularity among travelers. This year will see increased usage and popularity of e-commerce payments among travelers, as more and more merchants embrace efficient, secure and convenient digital payment methods.

7. Multiple activities driving growth for Muslim female travellers

In 2018, Muslim women comprised 45% of the Muslim travel market. The continued growth of this segment in 2020 will lead to a greater dynamism of activities involving Muslim women travelers.

8. Sustainability as core for halal travel

Sustainability will become increasingly central to shaping both business and consumer decisions in the tourism sector. Future travelers will begin to reward destinations and companies that are able to provide quality services while being eco-friendly and culturally respectful.

9. The erugrul phenomenon

The “Ertugrul Phenomenon” has been spurred by a string of high-quality and well-produced shows inspired by Islamic history and heritage. These shows are having the same effects as Lord of the Rings for New Zealand, and K-Drama and K-Pop for Korea.

10. The emergence of the “Muslim social impact travel” spirit

Driven by the global trend of social awareness and faith, a growing number of Muslim travelers are increasingly conscious of making a social impact when they travel.

11. Ensuring off-track destinations are on track with Muslim travel needs

With heightened concerns of over-tourism in popular destinations adversely impacting quality of life for residents and visitors, more people will choose to visit less-traveled destinations.

12. Overcoming Islamaphobia one step at a time

In some parts of the world, hate crimes have been committed towards Muslims due to Islamophobia. Despite these, Muslim travelers may still choose to visit such destinations out of necessity for business or visiting friends and relatives (VFR).

13. Halal gastronomy to the mainstream

As Halal food becomes available in more destinations, services and operators will redesign their culinary activities to be inclusive and Muslim-friendly, pioneering a new wave of Halal-centric gastronomy tours and activities.

14. The Daud Kim effect: Amidst the digital noise, young Muslims find Daud Kim relatable

With their effective reach and raw messaging, influencers like Daud Kim will play a positive role in changing mindsets and helping improve the perception of Muslim travelers around the world.

15. Resurrection of lost heritage sites and Islamic history

With moves to grow and promote tourism in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia, 2020 will see the resurrection of lost heritage sites. More OIC destinations will embrace this trend and uncover heritage that may be of interest to Muslim visitors.

16. Transition point in halal lifestyle events

Halal lifestyle events will no longer be in the emergent phase of the conference and exhibitions industry. Their maturity will be signaled by a shift towards better quality events.

According to these trends, local communities can develop by embracing diversity as travelers’ spending power and destination awareness increases, so does these travelers’ sense of responsibility.

Safdar Khan, markets division president, Mastercard, said, “The trends within this report provide focus to organizations, tourism operators and merchants looking to engage with this community and further their businesses and communities with expert information on how to better hone their offerings to this powerful demographic.”