Independent industry experts have told Abu Dhabi’s hotels, attractions and tour operators that they are in prime position to take advantage of the destination’s ambitions to become a global leader in the Halal holiday sector.
Speaking at Abu Dhabi’s first Halal Tourism Workshop, event organiser for the upcoming World Halal Travel Summit together with the Chairman of HalalBooking.com – the world’s leading website for booking halal holidays – forecast that Abu Dhabi is well placed to take advantage of a projected boom in halal tourism visitors.
Organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), the workshop brought together Abu Dhabi’s hospitality industry to hear how they can gain a slice of the booming international halal travel trade market by making small adjustments to their marketing and sales activities.
“Our ambition is to become a leader in the global Halal tourism market and gain a greater share of the global market which is estimated to be worth US$140 billion, rising to US$192 billion by 2020,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, TCA Abu Dhabi’s Acting Executive Director Tourism.
“It is incumbent on us to find new source markets, stimulate demand, and introduce new marketing concepts to inspire first time visitors and build loyalty to encourage our guests to return, and we believe the Halal Tourism niche is one which can achieve this.By galvanising the emirate’s hospitality industry to embrace the sector’s travel patterns, habits and aspirations, we believe we can carve out a niche and become the regional leader in Halal tourism and attract Muslim travellers from Europe and beyond the GCC and Arab speaking world,” he added.
In October, the emirate will play host to the first World Halal Travel Summit & Exhibition (WHTS15), the largest showcase of Halal travel and tourism solutions with support from Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, a division of TCA Abu Dhabi.
And for Andy Buchanan, WHTS15 Event Director, a growing exposure to global markets and established industry support structure will help Abu Dhabi position itself to succeed. “Much of the emirate’s hospitality industry is already attracting visitors from many of the 57 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member states and is therefore in pole position to benefit from the halal tourism sector by simply adapting their promotional messaging. The World Halal Travel Summit is an opportunity for these businesses to join ministerial debates and meet with 6,000 international delegates and visitors through a peer-to-peer business platform to shape the future halal tourism conversation and capitalise on commercial opportunities,” he added.
Research undertaken by Crescent Rating, a global resource in Islamic travel, indicates that 25 per cent of the top 20 growth countries in tourism expenditure in the last 10 years have been from the OIC countries, and for Elnur Seyidli, Chairman of HalalBooking.com, halal tourists from the GCC and Western Europe can help the emirate become a leading destination in this sector.
“According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, halal tourism accounts for 10 per cent of global tourism revenue and is worth an annual $14.7 billion. Abu Dhabi’s well established destination brand image, favourable climate, geographic positioning and diversity of experiences are a perfect combination to help benefit from this. The emirate’s hospitality industry also has a strategic advantage to benefit from the growing trend of twin-centre city break and beach holidays where family groups can combine cultural sightseeing and family leisure holiday in a single trip, and from providing halal stopover options for Muslim travellers to the east or west” HalalBooking.com’s chairman added.
The halal tourism sector is tailored around the travel needs of Muslim and non-Muslim tourists who predominately seek a family friendly environment and Halal tourists are proven to travel in larger family groups, stay for a longer period and ultimately spend more than many other niche sectors.
TCA Abu Dhabi recently launched a series of multiple self-guided halal holiday ideas and will further promote the sector across its network of 11 overseas offices to develop the visitor opportunities for this sector.
The World Halal Travel Summit and Exhibition will run over two halls at the state-of-the-art Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), from October 19-21, 2015 and will incorporate both TURATH15 and ITHMAR15 which focuses on the funding and cultural development of tourism projects and the World Halal Travel Awards to be held at a gala ceremony at Emirates Palace on October 20th.