Growth of Muslim travel

By 2030 one in four people in the world will be Muslim and Muslims are travelling more than ever, according to IPK’s World Travel Monitor. Medical travel organisations should understand the differences in travel behaviour and expectations of Muslim customers.

International trips by Muslims have experienced high growth rates over the last decade, but to successfully target this group, offers must conform to religion.

Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group and by 2030 will make up 25% of the world’s population. 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.

In some aspects, Muslim travel behaviour differs significantly from other groups. City breaks are more popular than sun and beach holidays, and shopping is more important than visiting museums. Increasingly, customers also want to be able to observe their religious customs. A tourist offer that caters to Muslims’ needs represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the travel industry.

For 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.

The most interesting source markets regarding the demand of international halal travel are Indonesia, India, Turkey, Malaysia and Arab countries.

According to IPK’s World Travel Monitor, source markets with a predominantly Islamic population showed growth rates that were 40% higher in the past 5 years compared to the rest of the world. Strong growth is also predicted for the years ahead. Halal travel offers huge growth potential for destinations around the world.

For Muslims traveling abroad, the United Arab Emirates is the most popular destination worldwide, followed by Germany, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Singapore. Over 60% of trips abroad made by Muslims go to Asia and the Middle East and around one-third to Europe. By comparison, trips to Africa, North and South America have a very small share of the market.

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 also much younger than the average traveller profile, with 75% aged between 25 and 44. In terms of education, there is a larger share of those with higher education levels.