Furthermore, in some Muslim-dominated markets there is a thriving middle class with growing buying power and a new consumer behaviour.
One effect has been an increase of international trips undertaken by Muslims. To analyse their travel behaviour in more detail, ITB Berlin commissioned IPK International to conduct a special evaluation of the World Travel Monitor.
In some aspects, Muslim travel behaviour differs significantly from other groups. City breaks are more popular than sun and beach holidays for instance, and shopping is more important than visiting museums. Increasingly, customers also want to be able to observe their religious customs. A touristic offer that caters to Muslim needs represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the travel industry.
Specific aspects of Halal travel
According to Fazal Bahardeen, managing director, CrescentRating, one of the world’s leading expert on Halal travel, the difference lies in specific shared values among Muslims that are much stronger than among other communities, regardless of their nationality. Whereas many associate Halal merely with the way food is prepared, it actually refers to everything that conforms to traditional Islamic law. For the travel industry that means fulfilling certain faith-based needs of Muslim travellers. This includes preparing food according to Halal rules, adapting meal times during Ramadan, offering prayer facilities in hotels, providing separate swimming pools for men and women and offering entertainment that caters towards Muslims.
High growth of Muslims travelling abroad
Currently, the most interesting source markets regarding the demand of international Halal travel are Indonesia, India, Turkey, Malaysia and the Arab countries. According to IPK’s World Travel Monitor, source markets with a predominantly Islamic population showed growth rates that were 40 percent higher in the past five years compared to the rest of the world. Strong growth is also predicted for the years ahead. Thus Halal travel offers huge growth potential for destinations around the world.
City breaks top the list
Worldwide city breaks and sun and beach holidays are the most popular holiday types. However, the picture looks different for international Islamic travel. Here, city breaks top the list with a market share of over one-third. Second-placed are tour holidays, which is then followed by sun and beach holidays with only around half the market share compared to the total market.
In general, for Muslims international holidays are less important than for other international travellers. By contrast, business trips, visiting friends and relatives and other leisure trips account for a bigger share of the market. Religious trips and pilgrimages in particular play a much greater role and make up 10 percent of foreign trips which is 10 times higher compared to the rest of the world with only one per cent market share.
More shopping, less sightseeing
Apart from preferring other types of holidays, Muslims also tend to pursue different activities when travelling. Whenever they visit cities shopping is on top of the list. In contrast, sightseeing the number one attraction for other travellers visiting museums, or good food, is less important for this segment. Also tour holidays are shaped differently with less focus on sightseeing or museum visits and more focus on nature and shopping instead.
Germany is the most popular destination in Europe
For Muslims travelling abroad the UAE is the most popular destination worldwide. Germany comes second, followed by Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Singapore, which makes it the by far most popular destination in Europe. Looking at each continent, over 60 percent of trips abroad by Muslims go to Asia (including the Middle East) and around one-third to Europe. By comparison, trips to Africa, North and South America only have a very small share of the market.
Young and highly educated
Measured against all other international travellers worldwide, the percentage of female travellers from Islamic countries is below average. However, in recent years their numbers have increased steadily. Muslim travellers are much younger than average, with 75 percent aged between 25 and 44. In terms of education, there is a larger share of those with high education levels.
Additional information on specific topics regarding World Travel Monitor data from IPK International will be published soon by ITB Berlin. Conclusive travel trend findings for this year will also be presented by year end.