The Global Islamic Economic Summit (GIES) 2013 is just around the corner. The much anticipated event will take place on the 25th-26th November 2013 at the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE under the patronage of Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The event will give an opportunity to all stake holders in the Halal and Islamic market space to engage in discussions that will impact the future of these industries. Travel being one of the key segments which will be discussed, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on this space.
There is no doubt that Halal/Muslim Travel market is an important area to be taken into account in any framework for building robust and sustainable economy drivers. This segment is not only a direct driver for economic growth, technological innovation, social enterprise, etc. but also is a strong catalyst for growth of other industries in the destinations.
During the next few weeks leading up to the event in Dubai, I will share few reasons why the Halal Travel market should be taken seriously by all stake holders; government policy makers, travel & tourism bodies, the travel service providers, travel associations, etc.
Let me start today with the first and the most compelling reason.
At the end of the day, business is all about making sure you have products and services that cater to the needs of your current consumer base; while being able to adapt quickly to the needs of the next generation. History is littered with once famous brands which did not anticipate the changes and had sudden deaths; some of them having had painful disappearances over time. If the Pew Research report “The future of the Global Muslim Population” is anything to go by, then businesses that avoid the Muslim consumer market run the risk of emulating those brands.
The Pew report says “Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion”. That in itself is a good enough message for businesses to take notice of this growing consumer segment. But more profoundly, further analysis shows that out of the additional population of 2.9 billion between 1990 and 2030, 1.1 Billion will be “Muslim consumers”. Added to that is the demographic profile of the Muslims; where 50% of them are under the age of 25 years. By all accounts, such a consumer segment is a marketers' dream come true!
However, most mainstream businesses are still either distracted or undecided. They choose or are sometimes forced to ignore the needs of this hugely lucrative emerging market. The truth is, it does not matter what products and services you are selling; for businesses to continue to ignore this reality is not in the best interest of their shareholders, unless you are catering to a very niche market in your neighbourhood.
Travel by its very nature is a global product, and that is why the travel industry will have a greater impact due to these changing demographics. Including the Halal (friendly) Travel segment as an important travel segment in the strategic planning of destinations is a good place to start; which will hopefully lead to understanding their needs and developing capabilities and services to attract them.
That is one good reason why Halal (friendly) Travel needs to get on the travel industry’s radar. In my next post I will share my thoughts on the unique “DNA” of Muslims when it comes to travel.
Fazal Bahardeen (@fazalbahardeen)