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Asia prepares for Muslim travel boom

Asia prepares for Muslim travel boom
August 20, 2012

While the growth in Chinese tourism is widely reported, global tourism is gearing up for a projected boom in Muslim travel over the next decade.

Their growing numbers and affluence mean that Muslims - especially those from the oil-rich Middle East - are travelling like never before, and it is a trend that looks set to gather pace.

Spending by Muslim tourists is growing faster than the global rate and is forecast to reach US$192 billion a year by 2020, up from US$126 billion last year, according to a study by two companies specialising in the market.

The study was conducted in 47 countries by Singapore-based Muslim-travel specialist Crescentrating, along with the US-based DinarStandard, which tracks the Muslim-lifestyle market.

CrescentRating Chief Executive Fazal Bahardeen said Muslim-majority states such as Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia are already favourite destinations, but non-Islamic countries are now "taking a serious look" at Muslim holidaymakers.

Malaysia, the top destination according to the findings, attracts Muslim visitors even during the fasting month of Ramadan.

The availability of halal food tops the list of Muslim travellers' requirements, according to the survey while operators are looking to provide services as diverse as halal spas and prayer rooms.

In March, the Economist Intelligence Unit said that meeting the needs of the world's 1.8 billion Muslims is fuelling business opportunities in numerous sectors, stating "from food and Islamic finance, the industry is spreading its wings into pharmaceuticals, fashion and tourism, besides many other areas."

The EIU noted that more than half of the world's Muslim population are aged 24 or younger, and many of them are well-educated.

Destinations such as Thailand and Australia, especially the Gold Coast, are taking into account these travellers' needs in their services and facilities.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is promoting Halal spas, where strict privacy for male and female clients is a requirement, for Muslim tourists.

It also organised a month- long festival of Thai cuisine in the United Arab Emirates in June and July.

Gold Coast theme park Warner Bros. Movie World has a prayer room while Dreamworld has long offered Halal menus.

The Tourism Queensland website suggests "Why not try Gold Coast for a cooler Ramadan this year?" adding "with a long history of welcoming Middle Eastern visitors and a large resident community, facilities for Muslims in Gold Coast, Australia, keep getting better every year."

However, the lucrative market has failed to deliver for the Gold Coast this year, with visitor numbers dropping by up to 30%.

Tourists from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates represent a small portion of overall visitors to the city but officials say they usually spend a lot of money.

Gold Coast Tourism Chief Executive Martin Winter, says there are two possible reasons for this year's disappointing figures, telling the ABC "the Arab spring and the uncertainty in the region, this has impacted heavily on us, as has Ramadan.

"Of course Ramadan hopefully won't have as much of an impact in 2014 but while it falls in the middle of the Middle Eastern summer holiday period, it will continue to affect us.

"We also monitor other destinations, which benefit from Middle Eastern tourism, and Malaysia, which is a very important destination for Middle Eastern travellers, has also recorded a significant drop-off."

Image: Dreamworld's promotion of its Al Eid event. 

7th August 2012 - ARUN MADHOK NAMED PERMANENT CHIEF EXECUTIVE AT SUNTEC SINGAPORE 

12th May 2012 - $1.5 MILLION BACKING FOR ISLAMIC MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIA

4th November 2011 - ONGOING GROWTH FOR SINGAPORE CONVENTIONS

16th February 2011 - SUNTEC INTERNATIONAL CELEBRATES NINE MONTHS OF EXPLOSIVE GROWTH

9th February 2011 - TRANSFORMING SINGAPORE’S TOURISM AND LEISURE LANDSCAPE 

31st March 2010 - NEW ONLINE GUIDE LAUNCHED FOR ‘HALAL’ TRAVELLERS 

17th October 2008 - TELSTRA DOME TO BECOME ETIHAD STADIUM 


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However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

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