“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” - Confucius
The adventure of travelling starts even before the first footstep. From compact travel toothpastes to portable irons, preparing and packing your provisions for that next trip is an experience in itself.
For Muslim travelers, this is no exception. However while the basic necessities may be similar to everyone else’s, there are some unique items which you may only be able to find in a Muslim traveler’s luggage. This includes prayer mats, women’s prayer clothing and even travel applications such as HalalTrip which assist the traveler in multiple ways such as finding Halal food and locations. These special traveling provisions and considerations are important for the Muslim traveler who is trying his best to remain faithful to his religion whist still enjoying his trip.
Similar to the world’s other great religions, Islam contains guidance for all aspects of its followers’ lives including travelling. In this aspect, the Quran commands for the Muslim traveler to “take provision, and the best of provisions (in the journey) is taqwa (God-consciousness) [2:197].” Thus to be conscious of his key duties as a Muslim whilst travelling and exploring the world around him, the Muslim will try his best to adapt to his situation, environment and the many places he encounters while traveling. If there is no prayer location, he will try to find a quiet unobstructing corner and perform his prayers quickly. If there is no Halal food, he may try to only eat seafood or non-meat products. The modus operandi has been very much to try and adapt within what is permissible within the religion in order to harmonise with society.
While Muslim travelers will continue to try their best to adapt under these conditions, this can take a considerable amount of effort especially in the realities and challenges of the world we live in today. Hence, this effort and even unmet needs represent a huge opportunity for industry providers to help the increasing number of Muslims worldwide in their travel. According to the GMTI 2016 report by MasterCard and CrescentRating, the Muslim travel market is indeed a fast growing segment, with projections that it will increase from 117 million Muslim international travelers in 2015 to 168 million by 2020, representing a Halal tourism industry value then exceeding USD 200 billion.
This opportunity in Halal friendly tourism covers a wide range of sectors such as transport terminals, transport services, accommodation, dining, prayer facilities and local services amongst others. From Halal-food certfications to ensuring that prayer rooms are available, businesses which cater to this growing segment will be able to generate both business profit and a strong relationship with consumers who will appreciate such services.
Confucius was right, and Muslims too wish to travel with all their heart. But Confucius also stressed the idea of reciprocity and the harmony of receiving in time what we give to others. In this spirit, businesses which understand the needs of the Muslim traveler and enable them to travel with a peace of heart and mind will be greatly rewarded in return.