Elena Nikolova, Editor of the first and largest Western Muslim friendly travel site, is amongst successful Muslim travel bloggers who are actively playing their part in the promotion of ‘halal tourism’ i.e fastest growing niche in the travel industry according to report Top halal tourism trends for 2019 published in wtm.com.
After the successful expansion of the halal food market, industries like cosmetics, skincare, clothing, and tourism industries are becoming Muslim-friendly to cater to this market and launching their ‘halal products and services”. In this article, we will discuss the growth of halal tourism, the best destinations for Muslim travelers, the digital era, and its latest trends and trendsetters.
Before exploring the ‘world of halal’, you must understand its meaning and gravity in the life of 1.8 bn Muslims in the world. Halal means “anything that does not constitute any ingredient which application is not permissible to Muslims in any way as stated in Sharia law. Out of many items, alcohol, pork, anything containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are strictly forbidden to be used in any products of daily life. To be ‘Muslim friendly’ means to provide products and services that do not compromise the faith-based needs of Muslim consumers.
Latest Growth in Halal Tourism:
Gone are the days when Muslim tourism was only considered to be related to an annual pilgrimage ‘hajj’ when millions of Muslims travel to their holy city Mecca. With rising economies, better education, and fast internet, the world is not hidden from Muslim Millenials to discover. They are being able to travel to their favorite destinations opting for better halal and Muslim friendly options in the world.
Many Muslim countries are also opening their gates to international Muslim travelers to enjoy the best of their places without compromising their faith over fun.
With mushroom growth in this niche, the travel industry is earning millions by just being halal adaptive as it is also synonymous with clean and organic eating, and attracts vegan and plant-based tourists as well.
We can imagine the fruits of developing halal tourism sector by looking at these figures:
“Revenue from Muslim travelers is expected to rise to US$220 billion by 2020, with the number of Muslim tourists growing to 156 million from 121 million in 2016, says Global Muslim Travel Index (GTMI) 2017, which was produced by Mastercard and CrescentRating, a ‘halal-friendly’ travel consultancy.”
World’s Best Muslim Friendly Tourism Destinations:
Due to the potential of exceptional growth of a country via tourism, the government and private sectors are both launching new initiatives to benefit from this market sect, halal tourism. Out of all famous tourist destinations of the world, few have topped up the list on the chart of Muslim friendly countries.
Top Muslim friendly countries to visits are Malaysia, Turkey, Belgium, London, Maldives, Cordoba (Spain), Brunei, and Pakistan. While the rest of the countries have entered the game to win the hearts of millions of Muslim travelers, Muslim countries are naturally more ready to tap into this trend. Few developments from these countries are the mirror of the expansion in this industry:
Malaysia becoming first-ever country to recognise hotels halal:
Recently in 2019, Malaysia became the first-ever country to launch its Muslim Friendly Accommodation Recognition programs that will accredit the hotels halal or Muslim friendly in the country. Main features of Muslim friendly hotels are
Alcohol-free, availability of Halal food, Quran and mats, prayer rooms, bidets in the bathroom while making sure that the hotel is financially backed by Islamic funds.
Indonesia becoming the next halal-hub:
Earlier that year, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s deputy Ma’ruf Amin-who revealed his plans to make halal (allowable or legal in traditional Islamic law) certification mandatory by this year.
Indonesia’s success in becoming the world’s first halal tourist destination in 2019 after five years of developing halal tourism based on GMTI (Global Muslim Travel Index) is soaring success of potential halal economy.
Thailand setting up digital game:
Thailand’s Tourism Authority has announced an app to help Muslim tourists to locate halal products and services. It provides information on the times of prayer, food options, and sightseeing tours. Being a dominant Buddhist country, Thailand has proved to be a famous destination among Muslims with its sizeable Muslim population and the Muslim friendly environment.
Pakistan using tourism to wash away the dirt:
Pakistan has been able to scrape off its extreme negative image and has been named the Top Travelers ‘ Vacation Destination for the year 2020 by the US-based luxury and lifestyle publication Conde Nast Traveler. With 98% of the Muslim population, breathtakingly beautiful Northern hill stations hosting Himalayas range, and budget-friendly accommodation, mouth-watering halal food will give you no second thoughts picking Pakstan your next halal destination.
Pakistan’s government is welcoming international tourists as they speak about their positive and secure experience in their country which helps the country to build its positive image that is negatively portrayed by the world’s media and lack of positive news.
Muslim Friendly Europe:
UK’s largest online halal dining platform’s, Halal Gems is providing hundreds of halal restaurant options for Muslims in their mobile application. Their online magazine has a readership of Muslim foodies who are looking to explore halal food places and dishes.
Another success story in halal tourism has sprung up from London known as Halalbooking.com.It is the world’s leading search and booking website for halal-friendly travel, allowing you to book hotels and villas online. Like famous hotel booking site booking.com, this site entertains Muslim travelers who are in search of accommodation for the halal-friendly facilities and services. Bookhalalhomes.com has also emerged as a platform to provide Muslim-friendly halal-certified, Airbnb-like lodgings.
Trendsetters in halal tourism industry:
Muslim women have always been portrayed as conservative human beings living in a burqa under the pressure of a patriarch in a war trodden captivity. Well, the world has been blown away with new emerging trends in the internet and tourism world i.e. Female Muslim Travelers. These travel gurus are shattering stereotypes while hiking away their negative image not compromising their modesty and faith. These travelers are showing the world from their perspective to their followers and readers. If you want to catch up what’s the next big halal destination or what’s the latest issue amongst Muslim wanderers, keep an eye on these influencers:
1. Muslim Travel Girl:
With 42K+ followers on her Instagram blog, Elena is an award-winning blogger that talks about Halal DIYs, umrah tips, and your next big halal destination and how to afford it.
2. Hijabi Globetrotter
You can relate to the story of Kareema being born to strict parents, and having a thirst to travel and explore the world. She shares her story of how she managed to get her first solo trip to Spain. Along with joy-filled travel pictures, she also mentions how it is not always that easy to pick up the bag and travel. Kareema guides young Muslim girls on how to develop a middle ground between parents and their dreams.
3. Muslim Travellers:
Checking off 200 countries on from the list, American Muslim couple Zain and Huda, are #couplegoals and inspirations for many on how to fulfill their wishes and being together. They have an original bucket list of 200 Muslim friendly activities which they are finishing as they travel.
4. The Tudung traveler
Singaporean Atikah Amalina receives all praise for her travel-filled Insta feed with side notes of wisdom on self-care, mental health, and diversity. She is an advocate of inclusivity which makes her a must-follow for Muslim women who share the same purpose.
5.Have Halal Will Travel (HHWT)
This blog doesn’t only share fascinating pictures of travel destinations but also reviews exotic halal eateries that can satisfy your hunger on a halal trip. If you are from homogenous countries like South Korea and Japan, then you must follow this blog.
Now that we have shared our insight on the fastest-growing halal industry and its latest trends, you have a clear picture of what’s going on in the Muslim world. The majority of tourist-friendly countries are promoting halal experience for their Muslim travellers, and initiates and influencers stories we shared are the results of this inclusive approach in the tourism industry.