Faith based values and needs are increasingly influential in the purchasing decisions of Muslim consumers. This is already reflected in the choices they make regarding food or conducting financial transactions.
The same Halal consciousness is now becoming evident in the decisions they make when planning their trips, whether for leisure or business. This opens up new business opportunities for airports, airlines, hotels, resorts, shopping malls, theme parks, attractions, etc. Therefore understanding and catering to the faith based needs of Muslim travellers as a part of diversifying the visitor arrivals, will not only bring more of these tourists to the destination, but will also be an enabler for new business ventures; especially for SMEs.
Crescentrating has segmented the faith based needs of the Halal conscious travellers into three categories for ease of implementation by service providers; “Need to have”, “Good to have” and “Nice to have”.
In the “Need to have” category are Halal food services and prayer facilities. Having an acceptable level of these services in places like hotels, attractions, theme parks, shopping malls etc., is integral to having a sustained growth of these travellers to the destination. Those unable to cater to these two needs are better off postponing targeting this segment until such a time as they are able to provide these services.
Halal food is by far the most important service that a Halal conscious traveller is looking for when traveling. As a result, it is one of the main beneficiaries of the growing Muslim travel sector. Having food outlets with proper Halal assurance that is identifiable by the visitors will make their stay free of worries when it comes to food. With the widespread scandals related to food, sticking to halal certified food outlets has become the safest option for travellers.
Prayer rooms equipped with “foot washing” facilities easily accessible at the destinations’ main tourism hotspots is another “Need to have” feature.
“Availability of water in wash rooms” and “the ability for a destination to cater to the Muslim travellers during the month fasting (Ramadhan)” comes next in the “Good to have” category.
Use of water in the toilets is a Muslim etiquette. Not having a proper setup to do that is discomforting for travellers. Providing such facilities has become less cumbersome now with the widespread availability of hand showers, bidets or even Japanese style toilets.
Although Muslims are less likely to travel during the month of Ramadhan, there are still a good number of them looking to spend this time away from home. Especially if this period coincides with school holidays. Destinations who wish to target this period need to be able to cater to the special needs during the month of fasting. The eBook here is a good guide on how a Hotel could cater to their Muslim guests during the month of fasting.
There is also an increasing number who are taking holiday breaks during the two Muslim festivals. Once again, attracting them will require most of the above services being in place at the destination.
Finally, in the “Nice to have” category are those services or facilities with “no non-halal services/activities” and “recreational services which provide privacy for males and females”. There is a growing sub-segment of Muslim travellers who are looking for destinations, resorts etc. offering these types of services. Some resorts in Turkey are targeting these holiday makers and reaping huge benefits.
Catering to these needs all the way from the Airport to the attractions etc. will definitely make the destination an attractive choice.
Travel industry is a huge catalyst for many businesses. Their impact goes beyond the ones that are described above. Dubai has defined 6 verticals as a basis for its aspiration to become the global Islamic economic hub. “Halal travel” is one of them. In my next post I will share my thoughts on this travel sectors impact on the other 5 verticals.
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