UAE to welcome more family tourists in 2016


Spending on family tourism in the UAE is expected to increase by 4.4 per cent this year, a new study muslim travellersconducted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry reveals.

Meanwhile, the outbound family travel expenditure of Emirati citizens is set to rise by 3.6 per cent in 2016.

The study identifies four key factors driving the growth: above-average population growth in predominantly Muslim countries, healthy economic performance of these countries, the increasing success of travel information and the availability of Muslim-friendly travel services and facilities.

This further emphasises the top position the UAE holds among global Muslim travellers – this year the country has replaced Turkey, ranking second after Malaysia in terms of Muslim travel friendliness, according to the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016.

Furthermore, the study reveals that Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iran and Qatar are the source of 40 per cent of total Muslim expenditure on travel. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia leads the number of Muslim travellers, thanks to countries with large Muslim populations, such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

This marks a major contribution to the UAE’s and the world’s Islamic economy; countries listed on the GMTI are rated based on a set of criteria, including the country’s suitability for family holidays, the type of available Muslim-traveller-friendly services and facilities, and guides and other marketing initiatives dedicated to spreading awareness regarding Muslim travel services and facilities.

The 3rd Global Islamic Economy Summit is set to take place in Dubai on October 11 and 12, bearing the theme “Inspiring Change”. The event is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

A spectrum of subjects will be discussed under the Islamic economy label, including family tourism, as the UAE is regarded as a top origin and destination country for family tourism.

“Family tourism” is an umbrella term used to refer to the body of Shariah-compliant and halal travel offerings.

Cultural experiences

 Travel experts expect GCC families seeking cultural experience and Muslim-friendly facilities to increasingly target countries such as the UAE, Morocco, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and the Philippines, throughout 2016.

While Turkey used to be a top destination for travellers seeking a Muslim-friendly environment, its attractiveness is expected to further drop due to recent instability.

Spending in the global Muslim travel segment is expected to hit $200 million by 2020, experts at Singapore-based Halal travel specialists CrescentRating predict. According to the experts, the spending growth will be driven by the rise in the number of Muslim travellers from the current figure, 117m, to reach 168m travellers by 2020. This makes up 11 per cent of total global tourism.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry study predicts news trends to emerge in 2016, potentially reshaping local tourism.

One trend is the drive towards developing cruise tourism, where the emerging segment is expected to grow by 30 per cent in the 2016-2017 seasons. This comes as the emirate prepares to welcome 155 cruise vessels carrying 650,000 visitors.

This creates an opportunities for family travel or Muslim travel agents based in Dubai to tailor destinations that suit the needs of Muslim travellers.