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Can airports ignore Muslim travellers?

Airports cater to various types of travellers from around the world and see large numbers of passengers throughout the year. Good airports should be capable of providing facilities that cater to the diverse needs of travellers. With the Muslim travel market being one of the fastest growing market segments in the industry, it is of great importance that airports ensure that they are able to cater to the specific needs of Muslim travellers.

The Muslim travel market is amongst the most rapidly expanding travel markets in the world and make up a large percentage of the world's entire travel market. According to studies, the Muslim market is worth as much as $126 billion and is expected to grow at around 5% every year. Muslim travellers are also expected to become the highest spending tourist market in the world over the next few years, with over 13% of total global expenditure.

With this in mind, can airports really afford to ignore Muslim travellers? The realisation of the important role of Muslim travellers in the travel industry has led to an increasing number of airports around the world developing its facilities and services so that they are capable of better serving Muslim travellers.

Some of the basic facilities required by Muslim travellers at airports include access to Halal food and prayer facilities. Almost all major airports at Muslim-friendly destinations are already capable of providing such facilities, with numerous restaurants at airports serving a wide variety of Halal food as well as few vegetarian options that can be opted for. Prayer rooms with facilities such as prayer mats, timetables, prayer dresses as well as washing facilities are also usually available and can be used by Muslim travellers during prayer times.

Many airports around the world are restructuring their services to offer such facilities for Muslim travellers. A fine example of thi is Japan. Identifying a demand for Muslim-friendly tourism in the country, Japan is implementing steps to make it more appealing to Muslim travellers.

Japan's Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture has made several upgrades to its prayer room for Muslim tourists and is planning to add additional facilities to better serve its Muslim travellers. Souvenir shops have also included items such as a range of jilbab and other dyed garments for Muslim ladies. Halal restaurants are available as well, serving an enticing range of local Halal fare.

Other airports in Japan such as the New Kansai International Airport in Osaka and the Chubu Centrair International Airport in Aichi Prefecture have also adopted similar measures to cater to Muslim travellers. With the remodeling of their tourism approach, Japan is quickly becoming a very popular destination amongst Muslim travellers.

Due to the importance of the Muslim market segment, airports cannot afford to ignore Muslim travellers. By providing facilities and services that cater to their needs, airports ensure that they are capable of serving a very large portion of the travel market.