Ramadan is the religious observance of fasting in Islam and Muslims fast this whole month annually. The date cannot be determined in advance due to the nature of the lunar calendar, however it is expected to begin around the 27th or 28th of June 2014. The dates may vary from country to country as Muslims have to begin and end the month of Ramadan after sighting the new moon. This month is a special month for Muslims around the world and observing fast is a compulsory act of worship if you are an adult although most children take part in this ritual as well. The fast should to be observed from sunrise to sunset and as it is the month of seeking repentance, Muslims need to spend a lot of time in prayer. Most Muslims don’t travel much during this month unless it is on pilgrimage to Makkah. But when it is essential to travel on work or for other reasons, Muslims are mostly reluctant travelers because finding Muslim-friendly facilities are not easy in most countries.
When Muslim travelers choose a destination to visit, they usually look for countries that provide Muslim-friendly facilities. This is mainly due to their lifestyle choices, their need to eat halal food, the availability of prayer facilities and the need for separate leisure facilities for men and women; are important requirements for Muslim travelers. But during the month of Ramadan their requirements will be a little different, as they would need their halal meals served at a different time than the usual meal times. As the fast begins at sunrise and ends at sunset Muslim travelers will need to eat very early in the morning and again in the evening soon after sunset. Muslim travelers will look for hotels that cater to their specific needs during this month. These needs are mainly ‘suhoor’ or the pre dawn meal and ‘Iftar’ or the meal in the evening. Another important requirement is prayer facilities; such as a prayer room, prayer mat and qibla direction. Additional facilities that hotels could provide would be a Quran in each Muslim guests room, emptying the mini bar of alcohol and haram food items and replacing them with halal item of food and beverages, providing a list of close by masjids and Islamic centers that Muslim guests can use if and when necessary.
With the Muslim population growing at a rapid rate and along with it the Muslim travel segment; countries and travel related businesses should not ignore the needs of this segment. Many Muslims now are traveling even during the month of Ramadan for various reasons such as business, work, medical treatments etc and therefore need to find Muslim-friendly hotels to stay at. Hotels that choose to cater to this group of travelers would benefit greatly in the future with increasing travelers during Ramadan. Other factors that play an important part in the choice of hotel would be the level of haram or frowned upon activities taking place at hotels such as the availability of bars and night clubs which might be a negative that Muslim travelers will consider before deciding on accommodation. Hotels that are yet to get prepared for this group of travelers need to do so quickly. Staff should also be trained to answer question asked by Muslim guests and should be of better service to them. Hotels that provide all these facilities or at least some of them will be able to capture this growing segment of travelers and seeing to these minor details might go a long way in making the hotel a popular one among Muslim guests.