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Understanding the Emerging Trends and Challenges for Muslim-Friendly Destinations | Halal In Travel Global Summit 2023

Aug 2023

In a dynamic virtual session at the Halal in Travel Global Summit 2023, hosted by CrescentRating, a panel of experts explored the burgeoning realm of Halal tourism, delving into the trends and challenges that are reshaping the landscape of Muslim-friendly travel destinations. The session featured prominent voices in the field, including Afdhal Aliasar (Director of Halal Industry National Committee for Islamic Economy and Finance (KNEKS)), Dato' Dr. Mohmed Razip Hasan (Former Director General of Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) & Tourism Ministry of Arts and Culture Malaysia), Irshad Cader (CEO of Globothink Halal Industry Consultants), and Prof. Mohamed Battour (Professor of A'Sharqiyah University).

A World in Motion: Halal Tourism's Escalating Trajectory

As unveiled by the MasterCard CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index, the resolute projection anticipates Muslim travel arrivals to reach a remarkable 140 million by the close of 2023. This year's forecast seeks to reclaim the pre-pandemic momentum achieved in 2019 when a staggering 160 million arrivals were recorded. The optimistic trajectory extends its gaze into the future, envisioning the revival of 2019's peak numbers by 2024. The projections grow further, envisioning 230 million arrivals by 2026, propped up by an estimated expenditure totaling a staggering $225 billion USD. These statistics underscore the thriving influence of Halal tourism, illuminating a path with opportunities, innovation, and challenges.

Navigating Pandemic-Induced Transformation: Insights from the Experts

Moderating the session was Irshad Cader, CEO of Globothink Halal Industry Consultants. As a veteran in the travel, retail, and hospitality industries across Australasia and the Middle East, Cader brought much knowledge to the conversation. The distinguished panelists provided unique insights into the evolving contours of Muslim-friendly travel. Aliasar emphasized the pivotal role played by the pandemic in recalibrating the travel landscape. He highlighted how Indonesia turned adversity into opportunity, nurturing its domestic tourism industry and fostering resilience in the face of unforeseen challenges.

Dr. Hasan shared how Malaysia has strategically promoted its Islamic economy and Halal tourism, crafting a dedicated platform for Muslim-friendly accommodations and services since 2009. Dr. Hasan stressed the importance of awareness, tangible policies, and resource allocation to ensure the sustained growth of this burgeoning sector. Prof. Battour, an expert in Islamic management and Halal tourism, revealed that research in the field is burgeoning, focusing on various topics such as Islamic teachings, spa services, and cultural appreciation. He underlined the significance of harmonizing technology and Halal tourism, suggesting that digital platforms have become indispensable tools for promoting and enhancing the traveler experience.

Harnessing Emerging Trends: Pathways to Excellence

The panel engaged in a dialogue about the emergence of critical trends that are reshaping Halal tourism.

1. Authenticity and Cultural Enrichment

The pandemic-induced halt in international travel redirected tourists' focus toward local and regional exploration. This shift provided a unique opportunity for destinations to showcase their cultural heritage and Islamic history. Indonesia, for instance, capitalized on its rich Islamic legacy to attract domestic tourists while maintaining a steadfast commitment to providing Halal services.

2. Certifications and Standards

Across the board, Muslim-friendly certifications have become paramount. Such certifications provide assurance to Muslim travelers, ensuring they can comfortably adhere to their religious practices while exploring new horizons.

3. Technology Integration

The steady march of technology was evident in discussions on digital platforms, which have evolved into indispensable tools for information dissemination and marketing. Utilizing social media and specialized applications is pivotal in ensuring the Halal tourism message is effectively communicated, catering to the younger, more digitally inclined generations.

4. Capacity Building and Skill Development

The significance of training and skill enhancement among service providers emerged as a recurring theme. Ensuring hospitality staff has a nuanced understanding of Muslim sensitivities and Halal practices is a cornerstone for nurturing the industry's growth.

5. Halal Parks and Niche Offerings

The concept of Halal parks and specialized offerings emerged as a fascinating dimension of Muslim-friendly travel. Catering to families and adventurers seeking unique experiences in accordance with Islamic principles, Halal parks are expected to rise in prominence, creating a new avenue for tourism expansion.

Challenges and the Path Forward

As Halal tourism continues to flourish, challenges also loom on the horizon. Misinformation, inadequate awareness, and disparate standards across regions are hurdles that demand collective action. The panelists emphasized the importance of standardized practices and consistent messaging across countries to ensure a seamless experience for Muslim travelers.

Conclusion: A Global Mosaic of Halal Tourism

The discourse during the Halal in Travel Global Summit 2023 highlighted the dynamism of Halal tourism, weaving together insights from around the globe. With Indonesia and Malaysia leading the charge in fostering Muslim-friendly travel, the industry is poised to carve an enduring niche. From technological integration to cultural enrichment, Halal tourism is a multidimensional canvas eagerly painted by practitioners and travelers alike.

The roadmap ahead is as exciting as it is challenging. As destinations evolve, innovate, and adapt, the future promises a mosaic of experiences that caters to the aspirations and sensitivities of Muslim travelers worldwide. The resounding message from the session is that Halal tourism is not merely an industry—it's a tapestry of diverse cultures, aspirations, and journeys interwoven in harmony.

More information and sessions of Halal In Travel Global Summit 2023 are available through this link!

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