The number of Halal travellers is expected to grow from 117 million in 2015 to 168 million by 2020. Eventually, Halal travellers will represent 11% of the market with an expenditure projected to grow to more than $200 billion in 4 years, according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating GMTI 2016 Report.
The Amadeus Traveller Trends Observatory (ATTO) has just completed its Halal Travellers 2016 study, which was conducted by the UK-based research firm Context Consulting. The study found that the preferred destinations for Halal travellers are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, UAE, Turkey, Qatar and the UK. All of these countries have secured the infrastructure needed to serve these travellers.
Ernesto Sánchez Beaumont, Head of Commercial Strategy and Business Management, Amadeus Middle East and North of Africa, explains the types of travellers that are included under the Halal travel umbrella. Not all are the same and they need to be catered to with different levels of services.
The study, developed through face-to-face interviews with travellers and industry players in the Middle East, found that travel agencies play an essential role in supporting travel planning, with their biggest perceived added value being the assistance they provide in complex trips, especially to non-Muslim destinations. They are also expected to offer in-depth holiday advice and 360 degree support as well as flexible travel packages that have been personalised jointly with the traveller.
Antoine Medawar, Vice President Amadeus Middle East and North of Africa, sees the complexity of this growing niche of travellers and points to the fact that this concept may go beyond religious aspects.
All of the recommendations of the Halal Traveller 2016 study aim to help the travel sector meet the expectations of Halal travellers. Here are some of the proposals:
- Organize inspiration campaigns showcasing ‘undiscovered’ destinations
- Use gamification to improve loyalty via a network of female reviewers/bloggers
- Offer buy now/pay later options
- Signpost Halal-friendly hotels in non-Muslim destinations
- Provide multiple ground transportation options as part of packages
Mónica Clemente, Senior Manager, Corporate Strategy, Innovation & Ventures, Amadeus, coordinated the Halal Traveller 2016 research project and has participated in focus groups in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. She outlined the unique role of women in the travel decision process.