Global Islamic tourism set to grow 11% by 2020

The global Islamic tourism market share is poised to grow 11 per cent by 2020 on the back of rising demand for Shariah compliant tourism, studies showed. According to MasterCard data, the global Islamic travel market was estimated to be worth $145 billion in 2014, as the number of Muslim travellers reached 108 million worldwide, which makes up 10 per cent of total global tourism.

“This market share is projected to reach 11 per cent by 2020, as the number of Muslim visitors reaches 150 million, and their expenditures grow to $200 billion,” an analysis by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry based on data from prominent global research agencies said.

Global Islamic travel has expanded by a cumulative 11.5 per cent over the past two years compared to 2012 market size of $130 billion, and is expected to keep growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent until 2020.

According to Andy Buchanan, Director of the World Halal Travel Summit and Exhibition, investments in the Shariah-compliant tourism in the UAE are projected to reach $350 million in the next five years as the sector continues to gain momentum.

Buchanan said the UAE is the fastest-growing halal market in the GCC region in terms of attracting or exporting halal tourism products.

Halal tourism entails offering fully Shariah-compliant services and products by hotels, restaurants, malls, entertainment places; they must also be family-friendly.

Turkey remains the world’s top halal tourism destination. Globally, the value of halal tourism is estimated at $137 billion and is projected to surge to $230 billion by 2020.

The UAE is ranked 24th globally, and 1st in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) category, according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (2015), while Malaysia followed closely with a global rank of 25. However, in terms of Islamic travel friendliness, Malaysia is ranked first under the global Muslim travel index (GMTI) based on criteria set by “Crescent rating”, a leading Islamic travel rating organisation based in Singapore. The UAE came 3rd according to the 2015 index. The key set of criteria behind the ratings includes a country’s suitability for family holidays, the type of available Muslim-traveler-friendly services and facilities, as well as guides and other marketing initiatives dedicated to promoting awareness on Islamic travel services and facilities.

An estimated 40 per cent of outbound Islamic travel spending stems from five countries in the Middle East. Southeast Asia, on the other hand – with its populous countries Indonesia and Malaysia – leads by number of tourists. Russia, with expenditure worth $5.4 billion during 2013, is considered the top Islamic traveller source, under non-OIC countries. Germany ranks second at $3.6 billion, followed by the United Kingdom at $2.4 billion, while France comes 4th with $2.3 billion.