The development of halal tourism will be shaped by the under 40s
A growing population of young, tech-savvy Muslim travelers will impact the development of halal tourism in years to come, noted the eighth edition of the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel (GMTI) 2022 report, released on June 1.
The world’s Muslim population will increase from 2 billion in 2022, or 25% of the world’s population, to 2.3 billion in 2030, or 27% of the world’s population.
Fleshing out the findings, Fazal Bahardeen, Founder and CEO of CrescentRating and HalalTrip, said: “The population under 40 will grow from 1.46 billion in 2022 to 1.6 billion by 2030, while the key group 20-25 year olds will grow from 165 million today to 181 million by 2030. This means that we will have a very young and dynamic demographic that will impact the travel and tourism industry.
The industry will need to pay particular attention to Gen Z travelers, Millennials and women who are identified as the most influential influencers in the development of Halal tourism.
The report noted that millennials in general are well-educated, tech-savvy, and often spend more time and effort conducting in-depth travel research. Muslim Millennials, in particular, are adopting travel patterns characterized by accessibility, affordability and authenticity.
Gen Z individuals are down-to-earth and curious, and Gen Z Muslim travelers prioritize adaptability, authenticity, affordability, and accessibility in their travel decisions.
Unlike other generations, the lack of Muslim-friendly facilities does not deter Gen Z travelers from visiting a particular destination. Instead, they adapt their needs to their environment, such as turning to vegetarian meals or instant meals when halal food options are lacking.
Female travelers are now one of the fastest growing segments for general tourism and Muslim travel, accounting for 45% of Muslim arrivals globally. Noting that female Muslim travelers were already a segment to watch before the pandemic, Fazal said many are independent and favor solo travel.
Meanwhile, forecasting the development of halal tourism, the GMTI 2022 report projects that the number of Muslim travelers will reach 140 million in 2023 and return to pre-Covid 2019 levels of 160 million in 2024.
“Before the pandemic, we expected Muslim visitor arrivals to reach 230 million by 2026. Given the situation we have had for the past two years, we now estimate that this figure will not be reached until 2028, with an estimated expenditure of US$225 billion,” Fazal said.
In the 2022 GMTI ranking, which rates destinations on their Halal tourism development efforts based on nearly 50 data points such as visa requirements, stakeholder awareness and meeting basic needs of Muslims, Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia topped the top 20 ranking.
Malaysia retains pole position from 2021, while Indonesia moves up from fourth place last year. Indonesia shares second place with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which ranked third and fourth respectively in 2021.
Singapore continues to be the only non-OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) country to feature in the top 20.
In a video address, Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Nancy Shukri said the prospects for halal travel are bright for Malaysia and the government and stakeholders will continue to encourage Muslim tourists to choose Malaysia.
She said that through the Islamic Tourism Center (ITC), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia is striving to do better in helping Muslim travelers fulfill their religious obligations during of their travels. ITC provides training and capacity building, research, and the development of standards and certifications to ensure that industry players understand the needs of Muslim travelers and are ready to bring value to this segment.
When asked what is most lacking in non-OIC destinations seeking to attract Muslim travellers, Fazal highlighted destination marketing.
“In general, non-OIC destinations can do a lot more to communicate their welcome and preparedness to Muslim travellers,” he said. XXL Asia.
It identified Taiwan as a non-OIC destination that has been “very successful” in communicating halal-friendly features, with a press release issued almost every two weeks on new efforts to welcome Muslim travellers.
Singapore leads the pack among non-OIC destinations for “having made immense efforts to provide services that accommodate Muslim travellers”. The city-state’s proximity and understanding to neighboring OIC countries, Malaysia and Indonesia, also helps position Singapore in a strong position to welcome Muslim travellers.