As more Muslims tour the world like never before finding halal food, prayer areas and family-friendly entertainment will only become easier.
Compared to other demographics the average Muslim is younger, more educated and carries a larger disposable income. A notable portion of this income goes towards travel.
According to Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015, a halal travel market research publication by CrescentRating and MasterCard, “in 2014 this segment was worth $145 billion, with 108 million Muslim travelers representing 10% of the entire travel economy.
This is forecast to grow to 150 million visitors by 2020 and 11% of the market with an expenditure projected to grow to $200 billion. Muslim travel will continue to be one of the fastest growing travel sectors in the world.”
With faith influencing the products and services Muslims purchase, the travel industry would be wise – and profitable – in accommodating for Muslims’ unique needs.
HalalTrip, the world’s first full featured travel booking website for Muslim travelers, is endeavoring to becoming the #1 trusted trip advisor for Muslim travelers.
CEO Fazal Bahardeen tells the Muslim Observer, “At [HalalTrip] …what we want to do is build a TripAdvisor kind of platform for Muslim travelers…[We] not only give inspiration and information but also provide services like hotel bookings and travel package bookings.”
At HalalTrip, individuals are able to book halal-friendly hotels, flights, and travel packages. They also receive access to mosque, restaurant, airport, city and attraction guides that highlight halal-friendly facilities available in a given destination to help Muslims plan their stay.
What makes a hotel or flight “halal-friendly”? There are several factors including accessibility to prayer areas, halal dining options, availability of proper ablution facilities, and more.
According to GMTI, “More than 50% of Muslim tourists travel with their families – a much higher percentage compared with other travel segments.” Therefore, safety and family oriented activities are very important factors Muslims consider when deciding potential travel destinations.
Additional accommodations including an alcohol-free environment, prayer direction markings in hotel rooms, and bilingual staff also increase a destination’s attractiveness to travelers. Though not commonly known, the demand for halal-friendly travel accommodations is enormous and only escalating.
Bahardeen explains, “The Muslim market is one of the fastest growing travel markets…Of course people like to say that the Muslim market is a niche market [but] it is no more a niche market when it is almost 10+% of the whole market.
If you call the Muslim market a niche market, than you have to call the Chinese market a niche market, which is the biggest market today because the number is almost the same. They spend almost 140-150 billion last year and the Muslim market also spent 140-150 billion last year.
There is a huge need [for halal-friendly accommodations]…Muslims are traveling more and more…[they are] one of the fastest growing middleclass in the world, contrary to all the negative information you see and hear. And, the Muslim middleclass are wanting to travel and wanting to have some sort of entertainment.”
Bahardeen says the mission at HalalTrip is to allow Muslims to explore any part of the world without having to compromise on their basic religious requirements.
An important example of this includes HalalTrip’s “InFlight Prayer Times and Qibla Direction Calculator” that shows a flight’s prayer times and directions so Muslims don’t have to worry about missing their mandatory prayers while flying.
“You can find out the prayer times for [a] flight even before you book the flight,” Bahardeen shares. “What we want to do later is help the user to filter flights that are the least convenient. Praying in the flight is not a convenient thing so what we want to do is get the user to sort out those flights.”
Information on traveller prayers and religious etiquette are also available on HalalTrip. A new “Can You Reach The Mosque” feature has also just been released. This feature shows the time of prayer at nearby mosques and calculates if a person can reach the mosque on time for that prayer.
As for HalalTrip hotels, CrescentRating, the world’s leading authority on halal-friendly travel and owner of HalalTrip, rates many. If the rating is unavailable, Bahardeen states viewers can at least find “direct information about Muslim friendly services in and around the hotel.”
The most popular service HalalTrip offers are the tour packages. Since Muslims often travel with family, they look for itineraries and support that will assist their group needs.
“Our tour packages are all completely screened and rated by CrescentRating. They will ensure that if food is provided as a part of the package, it is halal, [they also ensure that] there will be stops for salaat, [they] make sure the itineraries are acceptable for Muslims, and more. The tour packages are tailor made for the Muslim market.”
If you’re a Muslim wanting to travel abroad, consider HalalTrip your essential travel resource. Visit HalalTrip.com to learn more and download their app on your smartphone. Also check them out on facebook.com/HalalTrip and on Twitter @HalalTrip!