By Alicia Buller
Morocco, the Gulf region, Spain and Malaysia are popular travel destinations for halal holidays
Global Muslim jetsetters have developed a taste for luxury halal holidays such as skiing and cruising, according to Ufuk Secgin, chief marketing officer (CMO) at online travel site HalalBooking.
“The average Muslim traveller is becoming more discerning and adventurous. We’ve seen rising demand for halal ski resorts… in Turkey, Bosnia and Switzerland,” Secgin told Arabian Business.
The CMO also predicted a rapid take up of ‘halal cruises’ in the coming years.
“So many of our customers are asking for them (halal cruises). At the moment, we work with cruise liners in Turkey that travel around the islands. On board the ships there is no alcohol, all the food is halal, the pools are segregated and the entertainment is very family orientated,” said Secgin. “The trend is in its infancy at the moment but it will definitely grow.”
The CMO said HalalBooking is seeing increased demand for sophisticated ‘city breaks’ in European capitals, such as London, Paris and Rome.
Founded in 2009, HalalBooking is the UK’s first online booking site devoted purely to halal-compliant travel. It now has more than 700 hotels on its books across 42 countries. Headquartered in the commuter town of Reading, the startup firm claims to have ‘double its growth each year’ and billed $14 million in revenues in 2017. The site is set to rake in $30 million in 2018 and clock up around 80,000 bookings in total, Seqcin said.
The site’s users come from over 60 countries, with 24 per cent of customers coming from Germany, followed by the UK (15 per cent) and Turkey (12 per cent).
The CMO said Turkey is by far its most popular inbound destination, representing over 80 per cent of its bookings in 2017.
“Turkey has the best halal-friendly beaches and also the highest number of halal-friendly beaches,” Secgin said.
Morocco, the GCC, Spain and Malaysia are also popular travel destinations, he said.
HalalBooking’s statistics are broadly reflective of the latest statistics from Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) by research firm Crescent Ratings. The GMTI report shows Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco to be the top Muslim inbound destinations respectively in 2018.
The Muslim travel market continues to ‘rapidly grow and evolve amid a changing environment’, the report said.
According to the GMTI, the halal travel market is on course to reach $220 billion by 2020. It is expected to grow a further $80 billion to reach $300 billion by 2026.
In 2017, there were an estimated 131 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally – up from 121 million in 2016 – this is forecasted to grow to 156 million visitors globally by 2020, representing 10 per cent of the total global travel market.