ECONOMY

Halal tourism spending to reach $200 bln by 2020

Recent figures have shown that the halal tourism sector was valued at $145bn in 2014, and is one of the fastest growing travel segments in the world. (Archives)

Halal tourism numbers are expected to hit 150 million in traveler’s volume and collectively spend an estimated $200 billion by 2020, revealed “Halal Travel 2016 report conducted by UK-based research firm Context Consulting and commissioned by Amadeus, and presented at Dubai’s Arabian Travel Market.

The study gives an insight into the current needs and future expectations of this travel group whose importance is growing globally.

The Amadeus report on Halal travelers highlights three core themes that span the key drivers of travel: cultural experiences, accommodation needs, and activity preferences. These are the components of the themes:

1) Maximizing trip value: Halal seekers plan their trip to maximize ‘cultural return on investment’.

- Halal travelers often adopt a hyper-planning holiday mode

- Women have real influence in the travel experience

- Travelers are more motivated to use agents for complex trips

- Halal travelers like packages, but find them basic and inflexible

2) Relevant Accommodation: Halal travelers want to choose Halal-friendly accommodation that gives them freedom.

- Apartments or chain hotels are preferred by Halal travelers

- Many hotels currently fail to meet prayer and dining requirements

- Hotels and resorts must support travelers’ ‘cultural comfort’

- Women struggle to find relevant hotel facilities

3) Family-friendly destinations: At their destination, halal travelers want to explore within their comfort zone.

- Halal travelers have specific activity and excursion needs: in relation to transportation, praying facilities or dining

- Limited dining options are an issue for halal travelers: they want to have dining alternatives. Some want high end or gourmet options. Others want to be able to experience local cuisine in a Halal way.

- Halal travelers 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.

- Additional destination services are motivating to Halal travelers.

Other findings point to the influential role of women in the travel decision process, planning and some of the logistics; halal travelers 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 travelers frequently originate from the Middle Eastern region, there is a premium placed on human interaction, travel agencies, tour operators and consultants play a key role in supporting the travel planning. The halal travelers’ 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 favor the uncertainty of unplanned trips.

Recent figures have shown that the halal tourism sector was valued at $145bn 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 have 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.

Antoine Medawar, Vice President Middle East and North Africa, at Amadeus, said: “Halal travelers 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.

The Amadeus -commissioned Halal Travel 2016 study uncovered 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”.

Nashat Bukhari, General Manager of Amadeus Saudi Arabia, said: “This study is important because a large part of its information was based on Saudi tourist statistics, especially those who spend their vacations in foreign countries. Saudi tourists spend SR6.7 billion on travel and vacations abroad according to World Tourism Organization. This means they account for a significant segment of tourists. Their number is expected to grow and their demands to increase by 2020.”

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on May 5, 2016.

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Last Update: Thursday, 5 May 2016 KSA 12:12 - GMT 09:12
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Halal tourism spending to reach $200 bln by 2020
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