REGIONAL tourism players will be advised at this month’s World Travel Market (WTM) to exploit a new category of tourism dubbed Halal Tourism.
According to an excerpt from the WTM Global Trends Report being unveiled at the WTM and made available in advance to TTN, there is currently little different-iation between Middle Eastern tourism products and services for Muslims and non-Muslims. This represents a huge opportunity for Halal tourism, a form of religious tourism defined as activities permissible under Islamic law.
Euromonitor International, the world’s leading provider of global business intelligence and strategic market analysis, has teamed up with WTM for the second year to produce the report. It will be presented on the first day of WTM. World Travel Market on the opening day of the event, on November 12.
As other Middle Eastern countries turn to tourism as an alternative source of revenue, it is important that Halal tourism develops alongside domestic tourism infrastructure, giving rise to organic and adapted products that appeal to Middle Eastern tourists, the report says.
There is also scope to attract Halal visitors beyond the boundaries of the Middle East from the growing Muslim populations around the world.
Hajj and Umrah packages for pilgrims offer potential for Halal tourism products and services. This niche market offers strong inelastic demand and demonstrates high resilience where religious and Halal tourists will travel for their faith even in times of hostility or insecurity.
Already, several forward-thinking products have sprung up to cater to this demand, including the world’s first Muslim sky-diving centre in Tehran: the Shahab Skydiving Centre, which allows Muslim women to experience the thrill of tandem skydiving.
Further afield, despite being seen as dangerous by many, Iraq is drawing the devout: some 570,000 people visited Shiite Muslim shrines last year, according to a Reuters report quoting Tourism Commission chief Mahmoud Al Yakouki.
By Clark Kelly