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What is Halal Tourism? | A Comprehensive Guide

Sep 2023

In the dynamic landscape of global tourism, the emergence of Halal Tourism as a distinct market segment has captured significant attention. Despite its growing relevance, a comprehensive understanding of Halal Tourism still needs to be improved. What is it that distinguishes Halal Tourism from Islamic Tourism? What role does this Halal tourism play in the broader context of the travel industry? These are just some critical questions that travel stakeholders, academics, students, and media professionals frequently encounter.

This article is designed to serve as an authoritative resource for understanding the multifaceted dimensions of Halal Tourism. We aim to dissect its core principles, delve into its market significance, and unpack its socio-cultural impact. The aim is to equip the reader with a nuanced understanding of Halal Tourism, its relevance in the global travel market, and its potential for future growth and transformation. 

Whether you are an industry professional keen on leveraging this market, an academic researching travel trends, a tourism student, or a media professional looking for in-depth insights, this comprehensive guide will provide valuable information. Let's embark on this journey to unravel the intricacies of a sector that is a transformative force shaping the future of global tourism.

1. Understanding the Concept

Understanding the concept of Halal Tourism is essential for anyone engaged in the travel industry. Let's dive into what Halal Tourism entails, its relation to Islamic Tourism, its role in the global travel market, its key components, and how it distinguishes itself from other forms of tourism.

1.1 What is Halal Tourism?

Derived from the Arabic word "Halal," meaning "permissible" or "lawful," Halal tourism is a specialized segment of the tourism industry that focuses on meeting Muslim travelers' unique needs and preferences. This includes a range of Muslim-friendly services and amenities that cater to their faith-based requirements. Other commonly used terms for this type of travel include: 

  • Muslim travel/Muslim-friendly travel
  • Muslim tourism/Muslim-friendly tourism
  • Halal travel/Halal-friendly travel
  • Halal tourism/Halal-friendly tourism
  • Islamic travel
  • Shariah Tourism
  • Ziyarah Tourism

These other terms and definitions refer to the Halal travel market or its sub-segments. These terms have a varying focus based on who is using the terminology and in which context.

When CrescentRating was founded in 2008, it used the term "Halal-friendly travel." Later, in 2015, CrescentRating released the world's first glossary of travel-related terms specifically for the Muslim/Halal travel market sector. The glossary includes definitions for some words associated with an overview of Islam, its fundamental values and practices, and terms used in the cultural context of Muslim lifestyle related to travel.

1.2 Key Components of Halal Tourism - Faith-based Needs of Muslim Travelers

Nine essential components that make Halal Tourism are categorized as need-to-have, good-to-have, and nice-to-have.

Need to Have: Essential services without which Muslim travelers may choose not to visit the destination or not use the service.

1. Halal Food: Availability of halal food at the key touchpoints of a Muslim traveler's journey.

2. Prayer Facilities: Access to spaces for performing the obligatory Islamic prayers at these touchpoints.

3. Water-friendly Washrooms: Availability of toilets and washrooms equipped to use water for cleaning and facilitate ablutions before prayers.

4. No Islamophobia: A safe and welcoming environment where travelers do not experience discrimination based on their faith.

Good to Have: Additional features that enhance the travel experience but are not deal-breakers.

5. Ramadan Services: Facilities and services that cater to the specific needs of travelers during the holy month of Ramadan.

6. Social Causes: Opportunities to engage in social good, aligning with Islamic charity and community service principles.

7. Local Muslim Experiences: Experiences that allow Muslim travelers to engage with local Muslim communities, enhancing their trip's cultural and spiritual aspects.

Nice to Have: Additional amenities or services that may appeal to Muslim travelers but are not essential.

8. No Non-Halal Activities: Absence of activities considered Haram (forbidden) in Islam, such as gambling or serving alcohol.

9. Recreational Facilities and Services with Privacy: Leisure facilities that respect the privacy requirements of Muslim travelers.

The above "Muslim Traveler Faith-Based Service Needs" was first published in 2009 by CrescentRating. In 2009, CrescentRating identified six fundamental faith-based needs that significantly influenced the consumption behavior of Muslim travelers. With the rapid developments in the Halal tourism ecosystem and the changing profile of Muslim travelers influenced by global events, CrescentRating conducted a new study to update the model. The model with three additional "needs" was published in 2019. Termed as "Muslim Traveler Faith-Based Service Needs 2.0," it combines the original six needs with the newly identified ones, offering a comprehensive guide for travel stakeholders. This new model reflects Muslim consumer behavior's complex and evolving nature, shaped by traditional faith-based needs and contemporary global influences.

The faith-based needs of Muslim travelers are not static; they evolve as the global landscape changes. Understanding this evolution is beneficial and essential for anyone engaged in Halal Tourism. It provides a roadmap for service development, a framework for academic research, and a nuanced context for media narratives. Therefore, addressing these faith-based needs comprehensively is a critical component for the success and sustainability of Halal Tourism.

1.3 Who are Muslim travelers or Halal-conscious travelers?

Muslim travelers are those who practice Islam and engage in travel for any reason. Muslim tourism specifically refers to Muslims traveling for leisure purposes. Halal-conscious travelers, on the other hand, are Muslim travelers who prioritize adhering to their religious beliefs while traveling.

The level of adherence to religious practices may vary among Muslim travelers. Therefore, these terms describe those seeking to fulfill some form of religious obligation while traveling. For most Muslims, this means, at the very least, seeking out Halal food options while on the go.

1.4 Halal Tourism vs. Islamic Tourism: What's the Difference?

Islamic Tourism and Halal Tourism are closely related, but it is important to note that they are not entirely synonymous. While Halal Tourism focuses on providing a Halal-friendly environment, Islamic Tourism has a more religious or spiritual focus. Halal Tourism is about broad inclusivity, ensuring that all aspects of a Muslim traveler's needs are met, whereas Islamic Tourism is more specialized, catering to specific religious or educational aspects of Islamic culture.

A proper understanding of the distinctions between these terms is essential for those involved in the tourism industry, mainly catering to Muslim travelers' needs and preferences.

1.5 What is the Meaning of Islamic Tourism?

Islamic Tourism specifically focuses on travel experiences with religious or spiritual objectives to Islamic historical sites. Islamic tourism is a subset of Halal tourism. As such, the components of Islamic Tourism include:

  • Islamic Heritage Tours: Visits to Islamic historical/religious landmarks.
  • Islamic Educational Travel: Trips focusing on Islamic studies or cultural enrichment.

1.6 Hajj and Umrah Travel

One of the most significant aspects of Muslim travel is the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, Hajj, and the lesser pilgrimage, Umrah. These are not merely travel experiences but religious obligations for Muslims who can physically and financially undertake them. 

Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is mandatory for every Muslim to perform at least once in their lifetime, provided they are physically and financially capable. Umrah, while not obligatory, is highly recommended and can be performed at any time of the year.

The economic significance of Hajj and Umrah travel is immense. Every year, millions of pilgrims from around the globe converge on Makkah and its surrounding areas. This pilgrimage season generates billions of dollars in revenue, making it a pivotal segment of the Muslim travel market.

1.7 What is the Role of Halal Tourism?

Halal tourism extends beyond providing travel options that cater to the needs of Muslim travelers. It also serves as a platform for cultural exchange, fosters mutual understanding between diverse communities, and presents opportunities for market expansion within the travel industry. This concept has gained significant traction globally, even in regions where Muslims are in the minority, highlighting its universal relevance.

2. Halal Travel Development Goals 

In 2019, CrescentRating presented the Halal Travel Development (HTD) Goals framework, an inclusive and thorough guide for the industry to establish and enhance services catering to the Halal travel market segment. It identified five HTD Goals.

2.1 Integration, Diversity, and Faith

The first goal aims to enable Muslims to be active global community citizens while remaining spiritual. This goal underscores the importance of creating travel experiences that allow Muslim travelers to integrate with diverse cultures without compromising their faith.

2.2 Heritage, Culture, and Connection

The second goal focuses on connecting Muslim travelers to each other, the local community, and to heritage and history. This goal emphasizes the importance of cultural exchange and historical appreciation.

2.3 Education, Insights, and Capabilities

The third goal aims to enhance understanding among communities and increase academic and industry knowledge to improve the capabilities of stakeholders.

2.4 Industry, Innovation, and Trade

This goal aims to create new opportunities to increase commerce and drive growth across multiple sectors, emphasizing the need for constant innovation in Halal Tourism.

2.5 Well-being and Sustainable Tourism

The final goal recognizes the responsibility and social impact of Halal Tourism on travelers, the wider community, and the environment.

The CrescentRating Halal Travel Development Goals serve as an overarching blueprint for the travel industry. These goals are not merely aspirational but practical frameworks that organizations can adopt to recognize their strategic roles in Halal tourism. As the industry continues to evolve, these goals will be pivotal in shaping a Halal travel ecosystem that is inclusive, culturally enriching, and economically beneficial.

3. The Key Phases of Halal Tourism

The Halal Tourism industry has undergone significant transformations over the last decade, moving from an initial phase of market recognition to a more advanced stage that leverages technology and social activism. This section outlines the key phases of Halal Tourism, focusing on its evolution and prospects.

3.1 Emergence of the Halal Travel/Tourism Market

In 2007/2008, there were deliberations concerning developing a market tailored to cater to Muslim travelers. These discussions led to the establishment of CrescentRating in 2008, thus underscoring the growing significance of Muslim travel as a distinct sub-category within the travel and tourism industry.

3.2 Halal Travel 1.0: The Travel Industry Embracing Halal Travel

In 2014 and 2015, the next phase of the Halal Tourism segment emerged in the travel industry, whereby travel destinations and businesses began to tailor their offerings to cater to the specific requirements of the Muslim travel market. This trend was further bolstered by the launch of the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index in 2015.

Key Features

  • Market Recognition: Identification of Muslim travelers as a distinct consumer segment.
  •  Service Customization: Tailoring services and facilities to meet the faith-based needs of Muslim travelers.

3.3 Transition to Halal Travel 2.0

The transition to Halal Travel 2.0 is characterized by the integration of advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR). This phase was initially identified in the GMTI 2019 report and aimed at enhancing the travel experience through technological innovation.

Key Drivers

  • Technology: The use of AI, AR, and VR to improve customer experiences.
  •  Social Activism: An increased focus on meaningful and responsible travel.
  •  Demographics: Catering to a diverse demographic of Muslim travelers.
  •  Environment: Incorporating sustainable practices in travel services.

3.4 Halal Travel 2.0 After the Disruption

The COVID-19 pandemic substantially impacted the initial Halal Travel 2.0 phase. While the key growth drivers identified in 2019 remain relevant, the accelerated deployment of technology during the pandemic has further revolutionized the sector.

Key Trends

  • Accelerated Tech Deployment: Technology is now integral to every stage of the travel experience, from planning to post-trip engagement.
  •  Meaningful Travel: There is a growing trend towards making trips more meaningful and responsible through sustainable measures.

The Halal Tourism industry has evolved significantly, transitioning from Halal Travel 1.0 to a more technologically advanced and socially responsible Halal Travel 2.0. As we emerge from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector is poised for innovative growth driven by technology, social activism, and an increasing focus on sustainability. 

4. Halal Tourism Market Insights

In a rapidly evolving travel industry landscape, market insights serve as the compass that guides decision-making for stakeholders, provides research avenues for academics, and offers story angles for media professionals. This section delves into the economic significance of Halal Tourism, backed by statistics, trends, and examples of popular destinations. It elucidates why Halal Tourism is not merely a trend but an industry disruptor with vast untapped potential.

4.1 What is the size of the Halal Tourism market

In 2022, the number of Muslim international arrivals reached 110 million, regaining 68% of the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019. For 2023, projections indicate that Muslim international arrivals will reach 140 million. This would represent a recovery to 87% of the 2019 levels, reinforcing the ongoing recovery process. 

By 2024, CrescentRating projects completely recover, with the total number of Muslim arrivals expected to match the 2019 figures of 160 million. This robust rebound reflects the keenness and capacity of Muslim travelers to resume international travel as and when conditions allow.

4.2 Market Outlook for Halal Tourism

The long-term outlook for the Halal Tourism industry is decidedly positive. By 2028, Muslim international arrivals are projected to soar to an unprecedented 230 million. This doesn't merely signify a recovery but a significant expansion from the 2019 levels.

The significance of this growth on the economy should not be underestimated. By 2028, the expenditure by Muslim travelers is projected to reach USD 225 billion. This highlights the economic vitality of this market segment and its potential to significantly contribute to the global travel industry's recovery and growth.

Whether in the short or long term, the Halal Tourism sector is poised for both recovery and expansion, underlining its resilience and economic significance. 

4.3 Key Muslim Outbound Markets

Thirty countries make up 95% of the outbound Muslim market. Those countries are listed as such:

OIC Countries:

Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Uzbekistan

Non-OIC Countries

China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, UK

5. Investment and Business Opportunities

As the Halal Tourism sector grows in market value and cultural relevance, it presents many investment and business opportunities. Understanding these opportunities is crucial for industry stakeholders, academics, and media professionals, from capital allocation to research topics and storytelling angles. 

5.1 Investing in Halal Tourism

The expanding market size and untapped potential make Halal Tourism an attractive investment avenue. Here are some key areas for investment:

Key Opportunities

  • Halal-Friendly Resorts and Hotels: With a growing demand for Halal-friendly accommodations, investing in such properties can offer substantial returns.
  • Halal Culinary Experiences: From Halal food trucks to fine dining, the scope is vast and largely untapped.
  • Travel Tech Platforms: Investing in apps or platforms that specialize in Halal travel planning can fill a significant market gap.
  • Cultural and Educational Tours: Given the educational aspect of Halal and Islamic Tourism, curated cultural tours present a lucrative opportunity.

5.2 Future Prospects

  • Global Expansion: As Halal Tourism gains mainstream acceptance, the potential for global expansion is immense.
  • Technology Integration: Integrating advanced technologies like AI and blockchain offers avenues for innovation and enhanced customer experience.

The investment and business opportunities in Halal Tourism are as diverse as they are promising. It offers industry stakeholders a chance to diversify portfolios and tap into a growing market. For academics, the business dynamics of Halal Tourism provide a rich field for research spanning economics, business ethics, and cultural studies. For media professionals, the evolving business landscape of this sector offers compelling narratives around entrepreneurship, innovation, and cultural commerce. Understanding these opportunities is not just a pathway to economic gain; it's a multi-dimensional insight into a sector shaping global tourism's future in profound ways.

6. The Role of GMTI in Developing Halal Tourism

The Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) is an invaluable benchmark in the Halal Tourism sector. Developed to provide comprehensive and up-to-date insights, data, and guidelines, the GMTI has been instrumental in shaping the Halal Tourism industry. As such, understanding the role and impact of GMTI is crucial for various reasons—be it strategic planning, academic research, or balanced reporting. 

6.1 What is the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI)?

The Global Muslim Travel Index is a comprehensive assessment tool that measures and ranks travel destinations based on their level of accessibility and convenience for Muslim tourists, utilizing the ACES framework introduced by CrescentRating in 2017. This evaluation method provides valuable insights into the travel industry, enabling stakeholders to identify areas of improvement and enhance the overall travel experience for Muslim travelers. 

ACES stands for Access, Communications, Environment, and Services. This model evaluates the level of inclusivity and support for Muslim travelers that destinations provide in various aspects of their travel experience: 

  • Ease of access to the destination
  • Communication, internal and external, by the destination
  • The environment at the destination
  • Services provided by the destination

Quantitative measurements are employed across various criteria and sub-criteria to assess the four main aspects. These scores are determined using the ACES 3.0 Framework, which combines over 50 data sets. To keep up with the industry's growth, the criteria and sub-criteria for the Muslim travel market have been updated since 2017, considering changes in travel and lifestyle trends.

6.2 Influencing Policy and Infrastructure

Key Contributions

  • Policy Guidelines: The GMTI offers comprehensive guidelines that help destinations develop policies conducive to Halal Tourism.
  • Infrastructure Development: By highlighting gaps in services and facilities, GMTI indirectly influences infrastructure development like Halal-certified restaurants, hotels, and prayer facilities.

6.3 Shaping Consumer Preferences

The index is a trusted resource for Muslim travelers, impacting consumer choices and preferences.

Key Contributions

  • Awareness: The GMTI raises awareness among consumers about the array of Halal-friendly options available globally.
  • Credibility: A high GMTI ranking adds credibility to a destination, influencing consumer decisions and boosting tourism.

6.4 Driving Investment and Business Strategy

For industry stakeholders, the GMTI serves as a crucial tool for investment decisions and business strategy formulation.

Key Contributions

  • Market Insights: The index offers invaluable market insights, helping investors and business leaders make informed decisions.
  • Competitive Analysis: Businesses can gauge their performance against industry standards, thanks to the data provided by GMTI.

6.5 Academic and Media Relevance

The GMTI is not just a business tool but also a rich resource for academic research and media reporting.

Key Contributions

  • Research Framework: For academics, the GMTI provides a reliable framework for research in Halal Tourism.
  • Narrative Building: For media professionals, the index offers data-backed insights that can help build compelling stories and reports.

The Global Muslim Travel Index plays an indispensable role in the development of Halal Tourism. It informs policy, shapes consumer behavior, influences business strategies, and provides a rich foundation for academic research and media narratives. In essence, the GMTI serves as the compass that guides the Halal Tourism sector, offering multi-dimensional insights that benefit all stakeholders involved.

Understanding the role of GMTI in Halal Tourism is more than just a strategic advantage; it's a comprehensive insight into a framework that has been instrumental in shaping this burgeoning sector of the global travel industry.

7. The Role of CrescentRating in Facilitating the Development of Halal Tourism Globally

CrescentRating has emerged as a leading authority in the Halal Tourism sector, offering various services and resources that have significantly influenced the industry's development. Whether it's industry stakeholders looking to diversify their offerings, academics interested in researching the sector, or media professionals seeking insights, understanding the role of CrescentRating in the global Halal Tourism landscape is invaluable. 

CrescentRating is a consultancy and rating company focused on the Halal Tourism market. It provides a range of services, from market research and certification to training and strategic consultancy, aimed at facilitating the growth of Halal Tourism worldwide.

Other Noteworthy Initiatives by CrescentRating are listed below:

HalaltripHalaltrip is an online travel platform specifically designed to cater to the unique needs of Muslim travelers. It offers Halal-friendly travel packages, accommodations, and destination guides, making planning easier for Muslim audiences.

Halal in Travel Global Summit (HIT-GS): The Halal in Travel Global Summit is an annual event that brings together industry experts, academics, and stakeholders to discuss trends, challenges, and opportunities in Halal Tourism. It serves as the premier networking and knowledge-sharing platform.

Halal In Travel AwardsThe HIT Awards recognize and celebrate outstanding contributions to the Halal Tourism industry. These awards motivate and acknowledge businesses and individuals who have significantly impacted the Muslim community.

HalalTrip 40HT 40 is a list that highlights the top 40 influencers in the Halal Travel industry. It aims to recognize the thought leaders and change-makers shaping this growing market's future.

HalalTrip Gastronomy Awards: The HT Gastronomy Awards focus on celebrating the best in Halal culinary experiences. These awards aim to promote Halal-friendly gastronomic offerings and elevate the standard of Halal cuisine in the travel industry.

HalalTrip Muslim Travel Intent Tracker (MTIT)The MTIT, or Muslim Travel Intent Tracker, is a data-driven initiative that monitors and analyzes Muslim consumers' travel intentions and behaviors. It provides valuable insights into emerging trends, preferences, and spending habits, serving as a crucial tool for industry stakeholders to make informed decisions.

With this updated description, the MTIT further demonstrates CrescentRating's commitment to leveraging data and analytics for the betterment of the Halal Tourism industry.

CrescentRating plays a pivotal role in the global development of Halal Tourism. The company has substantially contributed to elevating the industry's standards and expanding its global footprint through its market research, certification, training, and consultancy services. Furthermore, its active collaborations with academic and media platforms enrich the ecosystem with credible information and research opportunities.

Understanding the role of CrescentRating is not just advantageous for immediate business or academic interests; it provides a holistic view of an organization that has become synonymous with the growth and legitimization of Halal Tourism globally.


The Halal Tourism industry is an evolving landscape that intersects with various sectors—economic, academic, and media—to name a few. Its burgeoning growth, marked by a projected market value of $225 billion by 2028, underscores its significance in the global tourism market. From understanding its core concepts and market dynamics to exploring its fundamental principles and post-COVID trajectory, the industry presents many opportunities and challenges. Tools like the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) and organizations like CrescentRating are instrumental in shaping this dynamic sector, offering invaluable insights and setting industry standards.

For industry stakeholders, understanding Halal Tourism is not merely an option but a necessity, given its rapidly expanding consumer base. Academics will find a rich field for interdisciplinary research, from cultural studies to economics and beyond. Media professionals have a wealth of narratives to explore, ranging from business innovation to socio-cultural shifts.

As we navigate the complexities and potentials of Halal Tourism, one thing is clear: it is more than just a niche market. It is a transformative force redefining global tourism's boundaries and possibilities. Whether you are an investor, a researcher, or a storyteller, Halal Tourism offers a world of opportunities waiting to be explored.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Halal Tourism?

Halal Tourism refers to travel services and experiences that are designed to meet the unique cultural and religious needs of Muslim travelers.

What is the difference between Islamic Tourism and Halal Tourism?

While both cater to Muslim travelers, Islamic Tourism focuses on travel experiences that have religious or spiritual objectives, such as pilgrimage to Mecca. Halal Tourism, on the other hand, is about providing a Halal-friendly environment for travelers.

What role does Halal Tourism play in the global travel market?

Halal Tourism is a significant market segment with a projected value of $220 billion by 2026. It presents diverse opportunities for market diversification and is a growing field for academic research and media coverage.

What are the key principles of Halal Tourism?

The key principles revolve around Halal-certified food and beverages, prayer facilities, gender segregation options, alcohol and substance restrictions, and ethical financial transactions.

How has Halal Tourism adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The industry has shown resilience by incorporating technology, offering flexible bookings, and focusing on health and safety measures. Virtual tourism and localized travel have also gained prominence.

What is GMTI and how does it contribute to Halal Tourism?

The Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) is an annual report that ranks countries based on their Muslim-friendly travel services. It influences policy, infrastructure, and consumer choices.

What role does CrescentRating play in Halal Tourism?

CrescentRating is a leading authority in the Halal Tourism sector, offering services like market research, certification, training, and strategic consultancy. It plays a pivotal role in shaping the industry's standards and expanding its global reach.

Are there investment opportunities in Halal Tourism?

Yes, from Halal-friendly resorts and culinary experiences to travel tech platforms and cultural tours, the industry offers a wide range of investment and business opportunities.

What are the prospects of Halal Tourism?

The sector is poised for global expansion, with trends like sustainability and technology integration offering avenues for innovation and enhanced customer experience.

By exploring these facets of Halal Tourism, stakeholders, academics, and media professionals can gain a nuanced understanding of this transformative sector, positioning themselves for success in a rapidly evolving landscape.

For a broader insight on the Halal Travel Market, please check out the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2023 on this link here!

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