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Building Sustainable Destinations: Ethics, Environment, and Profit | Halal In Travel Summit 2024

Jun 2024

The "Halal In Travel Global Summit 2024," hosted by CrescentRating, took place from May 28th to May 30th in Singapore, drawing together global experts to discuss the future of halal travel. One of the standout sessions was titled "Building Sustainable Destinations: Ethics, Environment, and Profit," featuring Dr. Nisha Abu Bakar, Co-Founder of World Women Tourism; Andrew Cameron, Founder & CEO of Enzyme Consulting; and Noor Ahmad Hamid, CEO of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). This session delved into balancing ethical considerations, environmental stewardship, and economic profitability in developing sustainable tourism destinations.

The Essence of Sustainable Halal Tourism

Dr. Nisha Abu Bakar kicked off the session by emphasizing the importance of creating tourism models that not only respect and preserve local cultures and ecosystems but also contribute to the economic vitality of communities. The session's primary aim was to provide insights into how destinations can achieve this balance amidst increasing global travel demands.

Sustainability in tourism is not limited to environmental conservation; it also involves social and economic aspects. The panelists discussed how Halal tourism could integrate sustainability by emphasizing local community empowerment and heritage preservation. Noor Ahmad Hamid pointed out that many principles of sustainability are already inherent in Halal practices, such as reducing food waste. By clearly defining these practices within Halal standards, destinations can simultaneously promote sustainability and cater to Muslim travelers.

Andrew Cameron added that inclusivity and sustainability should go hand in hand. He highlighted the importance of creating safe and welcoming environments for all travelers, regardless of their background or abilities. This inclusive approach not only benefits Muslim travelers but enhances the overall tourism experience for everyone.

Integrating Halal Principles into Sustainable Tourism

Noor Ahmad Hamid highlighted PATA's extensive experience in promoting responsible travel within the Asia Pacific region. He pointed out that integrating halal principles into sustainable tourism models involves understanding the significant market of nearly two billion Muslims worldwide. He stressed that not only Muslim-majority countries but also non-Muslim-majority destinations like Japan and Taiwan are making strides to cater to halal travelers, providing Muslim-friendly services and promoting sustainability.

Noor emphasized the importance of creating a balanced tourism experience by considering the demand for Muslim-friendly services and the availability of such services in various destinations. He noted that in highly populated Muslim regions, halal services are readily available, while non-Muslim regions are actively working to cater to this market.

The Role of Food and Beverage in Sustainable Tourism

Andrew provided insights into the role of the food and beverage (F&B) sector in sustainable halal tourism. He discussed how the F&B sector can contribute to the development of sustainable halal tourism destinations by focusing on health, transparency, and reducing food waste. He pointed out that the foundations of halal are aligned with broader sustainability concepts, such as avoiding wastefulness and being caretakers of the environment.

Andrew suggested that restaurants and hotels are pivotal in influencing sustainable practices. By establishing relationships with non-profits and local communities, they can ensure that excess food is donated and put to good use, thus reducing food waste. He also highlighted the importance of consumer education and creating inclusive dining experiences that cater to both Muslim and non-Muslim patrons.

Challenges and Opportunities in Halal Tourism

The session also addressed the challenges of balancing tourism demand with sustainability. Noor noted that destinations must avoid over-commercialization and focus on integrated destination management to spread tourist numbers and reduce pressure on popular sites. He cited examples of destinations like Medina and Mecca, where crowd control measures are implemented to manage the high influx of visitors.

Andrew echoed this sentiment by discussing the importance of educating consumers about sustainability and co-creating experiences with them. He stressed that tourism operators need to engage with consumers to promote sustainable practices and create memorable, responsible travel experiences.

Innovative Approaches in Hospitality

Incorporating halal-friendly practices in the hospitality industry can enhance tourism experiences while preserving cultural heritage. Andrew suggested innovative approaches such as menu engineering, sourcing local ingredients, and designing inclusive kitchen operations. These practices not only cater to halal travelers but also promote sustainability by reducing environmental impact.

Dr. Nisha added that destinations could leverage their unique cultural heritage to attract halal travelers. For instance, offering culinary experiences that reflect Islamic heritage and tradition can enhance the overall travel experience for Muslim tourists. She emphasized that such initiatives require a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors to ensure success.

The Importance of Standards and Certification

A recurring theme in the discussion was the need for standardized certification to ensure consistency and trust in Halal tourism offerings. Noor emphasized the success of Malaysia’s Islamic Tourism Center, which has developed standards for Muslim-friendly hotels and restaurants. These standards include not only Halal food certification but also facilities like prayer rooms. The creation of such standards can be a blueprint for other destinations aiming to attract Muslim travelers.

However, the question remains: who will govern these standards on a global scale? Noor suggested that multiple bodies could provide certification, similar to how various organizations certify sustainable practices in other industries. This would ensure a broader adoption of standards and encourage more destinations to become Muslim-friendly.

Educating the Industry and the Community

Education emerged as a critical factor in the discussion. There is a widespread lack of understanding about what Halal tourism entails, even among industry professionals. Noor stressed the importance of educating businesses and destinations about the specific needs of Muslim travelers. This includes clarifying the differences between Halal and Muslim-friendly, which are often confused.

Additionally, educating the community about the benefits of sustainable practices is essential. Noor mentioned India’s "Travel for Life" campaign, which encourages travelers to adopt sustainable behaviors, such as using reusable water bottles. Similar initiatives can be tailored to the Muslim market, promoting both sustainability and cultural respect.

Challenges and the Way Forward

Despite the clear benefits, implementing Halal and sustainable tourism practices is not without challenges. One significant hurdle is the confusion and lack of awareness among both providers and consumers. Destinations often struggle with where to start and how to implement these practices effectively. The panelists suggested that creating clear, actionable standards and promoting them through educational campaigns could help bridge this gap.

Moreover, the responsibility of certification and standardization should not fall on a single entity. Instead, a collaborative approach involving multiple stakeholders, including international bodies, local governments, and industry associations, would be more effective. This would ensure that standards are widely accepted and adopted, providing a consistent experience for Muslim travelers globally.


The Halal in Travel Global Summit highlighted the immense potential of Halal tourism as a driver of sustainability and inclusivity in the tourism industry. By adopting standardized certifications, integrating sustainable practices, and educating both the industry and the community, destinations can tap into the growing Muslim travel market while promoting a more sustainable future.

As Noor aptly summarized, the key lies in understanding and respecting the unique needs of Muslim travelers, just as we would for any other market segment. With two billion Muslims worldwide, the potential for Halal tourism is enormous. By embracing inclusivity and sustainability, we can create travel experiences that are enriching, respectful, and beneficial for all.

For more of Halal In Travel Global Summit 2024 sessions, please visit this page!

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