Muslim travellers around the globe are increasingly keen to visit sustainable destinations, according to the Global Halal Tourism Summit at Arabian Travel Market.
For Chris Nader, vice president of luxury group Shaza Hotels in the Middle East, the findings reflect global travel trends. “Looking at sustainability, we can see our guests have a lot of interest in this. On social media or in keyword searches when booking hotels and trips, sustainability is very important – not only for Muslim travellers, but for the entire Gen Z and millennial market.”
Female solo trips are another growing trend in what is the fastest-growing sector of the world’s travel market. Mamoun Hmedan, managing director for the region at travel search engine Wego, says: “We always notice the behaviour of travellers, especially when you go into the halal sector. We’ve been seeing the number of solo women travellers from this part of the world increasing recently, and there’s a lot of room for that to grow.”
It’s all about experience
Muslim travellers are also keen to do more experiential travel. Having a halal-friendly hotel with alcohol-free minibars and prayer facilities is no longer enough. Instead, travellers are seeking a way to interact with the local culture, try halal local food and connect with nature in the places they visit.
That’s something that travel operators are trying to offer more of. Shaza Hotels has two new resorts set to open in Sharjah; the first will offer state-of-the-art spa facilities with views of the emirate’s Fossil Rock, as well as many cultural activities. The other will offer a camping experience in the dunes with complete privacy.
Some destinations that were not previously thought to attract as many Muslim travellers are also opening up. “We’re focusing on resorts in Morocco, Spain and in the UK, too,” says Nader; these are in addition to two new resorts on the Indonesian island of Lombok.
Halal travel tech
As with all things, technology is changing the travel space for Muslim travellers. With a young demographic – the global average age of residents in Muslim countries is 22 – technology and social media have a large influence.
As well as apps that depict where the nearest mosque, halal restaurant or ablution facility is, a new booking engine launched today where the focus is firmly on halal travel. Rihaala.com is a place where travellers can book flights and hotels that suit faith requirements. It also has an inspiration wall where Instagram posts from halal-friendly influencers are uploaded to inspire travellers.
Updated: April 30, 2019 07:29 PM