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Speaking out

Halal travel sits atop hoteliers’ agenda
February 2018 12366

I am pleased to inform our dear readers here that the GIOHIS 2018 summit has put an emerging topic on top of the table to set the summit in motion. A topic that I have been following for a while now: the impact of halal travel and where the market is headed.

Based on a report by Thomson Reuters, the global market for halal food and lifestyle sector including travel, fashion, media and recreation, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics was valued at $1.8 trillion in 2014. This is estimated to increase up to $2.6 trillion by 2020.

According to Amadeus, halal tourism numbers are expected to hit 150 million in traveller volume and collective spend is estimated to be $200 billion by 2020. In 2014, this number was $145 billion.


Halal tourism numbers are expected to hit 150 million in traveller volume and collective spend is estimated to be $200 billion by 2020. In 2014, this number was $145 billion



Another study, commissioned by the Government of Dubai and produced by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with DinarStandard says that halal tourism market represents 11.6 per cent of global tourism expenditure – excluding Hajj and Umrah – and is expected to be worth $238 billion by 2019.

The numbers from various other sources, such as MasterCard and Crescent Rating’s Global Muslim Travel Index 2016, also show that the halal travel industry will be in the region of $200 billion in the next five years.

In 2017, along with Reed Exhibitors, we brought together an interesting cross-section of industry insiders to deliberate on the importance of halal and how its values may be integrated within the hospitality sector to benefit guests and customers. The roundtable saw passionate presentation of opinions and insights from global hotel owners and operators showcasing the relevance of halal tourism to the wider market, not just the Middle East.

Some of the key learnings that I intend to build on at the opening session of GIOHIS 2018 summit are: The evolution of, clarity and consensus around the term 'halal', it is not a secret that the term needs an industry standard definition that meets the demands of the varied mix of halal travellers. More than 70 per cent of my research base believes that this is the most important part of halal travel, wherein we need to agree around a set of standard principles that can be universally applied.

The potential of halal tourism is among the biggest positive triggers in the region’s tourism market. Couple that with Saudi Arabia’s liberalisation and softening of regulations, we will see a spike in numbers both inbound and outbound across the region starting this year. More than 90 per cent of my research subjects believe there’s a big gap that is yet to be tapped when it comes to promoting halal travel and tourism.

There was an overriding consensus that halal travel – excluding Hajj and Umrah – will indeed reach $200 billion in the next five years. These are numbers that cannot be ignored. I would like to know from my panel, Enver Cebi, co-founder of and Nehme Darwiche, founder of the Jannah hotel brand and one of the leading hoteliers in the region, how they see the trends in halal evolve.

What are the implications for young travellers when it comes to halal offering, how brands are innovating around the dual concepts of digitisation of services while aligning to the values preferred by halal travellers? Do the needs of halal travellers change and evolve over time? Are halal travellers a homogenous group of people? Globally, about 22 per cent consumers are halal customers – yet how many hotels or restaurants put an H on their menus to mark halal food?

Keep your questions coming in too – it is always appreciated to hear your thoughts on the topics we present and discuss in these columns.

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