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Halal Tourism: An opportunity for Spain?

The tourism industry is one of the most dynamic in the world. It currently represents 9.8% of world GDP, almost 7.6 trillion dollars, 6% of worldwide exports and 10% of employment on record. Within this huge market, the Halal tourism industry is growing very rapidly. In 2014, Muslims spent 142 billion dollars in tourism, which represents an increase of 6.3% compared to last year and a higher expenditure than that of tourists from Germany (108 billion), Britain (74 billion) and Russia (56 billion) for the same year. Among those Muslims who spent the largest amounts of money in 2014, we can mention Saudis, Emiratis and Kuwaitis, who spent 17.8, 12.6 and 9.7 billion dollars, respectively, closely followed by Qataris, Indonesians and Iranians, whose expenditure exceeded 7.5 billion dollars. Spending in Halal tourism is expected to reach 233 billion dollars in 2020, representing over 13% of worldwide spending in tourism.

Spain is a world power in the tourism sector. It has the most competitive tourism industry in the world, according to the latest Report from the World Economic Forum, and it is the third most visited country in the world, with almost 65 million visitors last year. In 2014, tourists spent 63 billion euros in Spain, a record figure representing 6.5% growth compared to the previous year. These data position Spain as the second country with the highest income from tourism worldwide, according to the World Tourism Organization.

Growth prospects are positive, thanks to a growing influx of tourists from emerging markets, such as China, Brazil and Mexico. Why don't we try to do the same in Spain with tourists from Muslim-majority countries, through Halal Tourism? Dynamic Islamic economies, with a growth exceeding the world average, emerging Muslim middle classes, with a higher purchasing power and Western consumption patterns, and a growing Muslim population, currently close to 1.7 billion, guarantee the growth of this market

From the more than 65 million tourists who visited Spain in 2014, approximately 2 million were Muslims, which represents an increase of 18% compared to 2013. Most continue to come from Algeria (220,000), Turkey (215,000) and Morocco (200,000), even though there has been significant growth in the numbers of Muslim tourists who visit Spain from Saudi Arabia (40,780), the UAE (39,053) and Indonesia (37,272). Compared to 2013, we should note the increase in the number tourists from Indonesia (+118%), Jordan (+90%), Turkey (+88%) and Kazakhstan (+87%). This is all without accounting for Muslim tourists from countries such as India, China or France, home to 140, 40 and 6 million Muslims respectively, who are not included in official statistics due to not being from Muslim-majority country.

Among Muslim tourists, average spending in Spain stood at 1,500 euros, with an average stay of 9 days, both figures exceeding those of tourists from neighbouring countries. Among Muslims who spent the most per purchase, we can mention Emiratis (€600), Kazakhs (€486) and Qataris (€440). They increased their spending compared to 2013 by 116%, 28% and 37% respectively, according to Innova Taxfree data.

Spain attracts Muslim tourists. We have all the necessary elements to position Spain as one of the most important Halal tourist destinations around the world: the Andalusí cultural heritage, wonderful tourist infrastructures, a rich and varied gastronomy, an extraordinary climate, the best football teams in the world, etc. This is shown by the fact that, despite the industry being in an embryonic stage, our country has gone, in one year, from the 20th to the 9th place in the Global Muslim Travel Index developed by MasterCard and CrescentRating, which places us as one of the most attractive destinations for Muslims (among non-OIC countries). Are we going to let this opportunity get away?

 

Click here for a detailed analysis of how Spain performed on Global Muslim Travel Index 2016