Muscat: Halal tourism is the new buzz word in the travel market around the world and an industry, which is gaining popularity among travellers from Oman, according to experts.
“Yes, it is getting popular and according to analysts the Islamic tourism market is projected to become worth $181 billion by 2018,” Sunil Prabhakar, chief executive officer, Travel Point Oman, said.
“Acknowledging the potential of the Muslim population, and an increasing demand for ‘Halal’ alternatives in various retail sectors, many countries, including non-Muslim ones, are already jumping on the opportunity and opening up their markets for Muslim tourists,” Prabhakar explained.
Halal tourism is not only about Halal food, as is the larger belief of some people, but is also about the overall experience, which is compliant with the Islamic Sharia culture.
“It is not just being applied to food, but includes anything, which is Sharia compliant. It is a form of tourism for Muslims, who prefer to utilise services, facilities and activities compliant with Islamic principles,” Prabhakar added.
Travel Point has established a “Certificate of Accreditation” with the help of CrescentRating, the world’s leading authority on Halal travel. This certificate is recognised as an Accredited Travel Company in Oman by CrescentRating.
According to Prabhakar, the sector is tailored around the travel needs of Muslim tourists, who seek a family friendly environment and destination. The fundamentals include a Halal hotel, Halal food premises, Islamic finance, Islamic travel packages, Medicare tourism, and a Halal spa.
Out of these, Halal food normally is the biggest criteria, “Halal food provided during the tour must come from Crescent-rated restaurants with a rating of ‘AA’ or above, and the same applies to the list of restaurants provided in the package. Prayer facilities are also expected in all rated packages and include a stop in the itinerary for combined Zuhr and Asr prayers,” he added.
Travel Point has been operating in the Halal travel market since March 2015, and has witnessed an increase in demand for Halal Tourism Services from Oman year after year. “We can confirm that the demand is increasing year after year and we have not witnessed any downturn in this leisure segment due to the economic downturn.”
Some of the most popular destinations for Halal tourists are Spain, Vienna, Munich, Bangkok, London, Delhi, Gold Coast, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Brunei.
Travel Point offers more than 250 Halal holiday packages, such as Madrid and the Gems of Islamic Spain, the Bosnian Nature Tour, Adventurous Indonesia Tour and several others. They also have a database of Halal Hotels.
A sharia-compliant hotel means no alcohol, Halal food, no pork, no discos, and facilities for prayers and healthy family-oriented entertainment. This trend is catching up fast, not only in the Gulf region, but even European markets are exploring the possibility of opening such hotels in a bid to grab a share in the Arab tourist market.
Muslim Mehmood, general manager at Al Hashar Travels said Halal tourism is the need of the hour and has increased in the last few years.
“It is the need of the times since the international holiday concept is increasing in Arabs, and many countries are focusing on this as it is the demand for valued customers, who have a strong spending power.”