A rental company in Orlando, Florida, is offering “halal vacation homes” with curtained pool decks and rooms with prayer mats and copies of the Quran. A British company’s app lists gourmet restaurants serving halal meat in London and Dubai, while a Boston-based developer’s app offers travel guides for 90 cities with local prayer times and a compass pointing Muslims toward Mecca for daily prayers.
The so-called “halal tourism” market was once seen as a niche revenue stream, limited to pilgrimages like the multi-billion dollar-a-year revenue stream generated by Muslim travellers to Mecca.
But now there’s a movement in the tourism industry to widen the “halal tourism” market to cater to Muslim travellers worldwide, particularly those from wealthy Gulf Arab states.
Travellers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman will spend $64 billion traveling this year and are expected to spend $216 billion by 2030, according to a 2014 study for the travel tech company Amadeus. The study found that, on average, a traveler from these countries spends around $9,900 per trip outside the Gulf. For Emiratis, the figure reaches $10,400.
Reem El Shafaki, a senior associate at the advisory firm Dinar Standard, said Ritz-Carlton hotels in Dallas and New York offer a good example of what hotels are doing to better serve Muslim guests. They provide halal meals upon request, have Middle Eastern chefs on staff, offer rooms with spaces that allow for gender-segregated settings and have trained frontline staff on other cultural norms.