HALAL travel is flourishing as an industry in its own right.
It continues to grow, change and evolve with the needs and demands of the Muslim traveler and is expected to be worth a whopping US$300 billion by 2026. This would contribute some 156 million tourists to the travel industry globally.
According to the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018, a growing Muslim population, increasing disposable income, and access to more halal facilities are contributing to the growth of the market.
Islam is the second largest and fastest growing religion in the world, and the younger Muslim generations are finding themselves with more disposable income than their parents may have had.
Halal travel is made easier with the support of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states and other nations not belonging to this community but still promoting Muslim travel.
Based on criteria including halal food, Salaath (praying), water usage-friendly washrooms, Ramadan services, no non-halal activities, and recreational facilities in privacy, the GMTI report was able to determine Asia’s most Muslim-friendly destinations.
Malaysia retains its top spot for its eighth consecutive year, not just in Asia but the world over. Considering Malaysia is already set up with Muslim facilities, being a Muslim-majority country, it doesn’t come as that much of a surprise.
Malaysia is also seen as a middle-class destination, already equipped with plenty of activities perfect for Muslim travelers.
On the end of the Malaysian peninsula is the prosperous island nation of Singapore. Scoring high in categories of safe travel environment, halal dining options and ease of communication meant Singapore could secure the position for another year.
The world’s largest Muslim-majority country Indonesia was also named as a prime Muslim-friendly destination along with Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
According to the GMTI 2018 report, the Muslim lifestyle space is experiencing several dynamic shifts. The report identified three significant areas that are expected to completely alter the future of Muslim travel – for the better.
With so many options for Muslim travelers, a basic halal menu, small prayer facilities and dull halal activities aren’t going to cut it anymore. Hotel brands, restaurant groups, and tour companies are racing to have training on the needs of Muslims on the move.
“With the emergence of AI-enabled travel services, there is a need for robust data, with data integrity, privacy, and protection,” explains the report.
This technology provides destinations the opportunity to further differentiate from what others are offering.
The report also suggests destinations, hotels, tour groups and dining facilities to use this technology to personally connect with Muslim travelers, as opposed to merely complying with industry standards.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister website Travel Wire Asia.