Islamic tourism is on the rise, but who’s winning the race?

Islamic tourism

Malacca Straits Mosque on the water in Malaysia. Source / Shutterstock.com

ISLAMIC tourism, halal tourism, and Muslim friendly tourism are currently hot topics and it is no wonder. The global Islamic tourism industry is steadily growing and is estimated to be worth US$220 billion by 2020.

Islamic tourism denotes the leisure trips that are sought after by those whom compliance with religious observations, when away from home, is a fundamental consideration. Alongside Islamic tourism is halal and Muslim tourism, with similar definitions.

The rise of the Muslim population is set to reach 2.8 billion by 2050, which will equate to around 30 percent of world’s total. With this increase, comes a considerable rise in the amount spent in the Islamic tourism sector. The World Travel and Tourism Council calculates that Muslims travelers will generate US$238 billion in the global tourism industry by 2019.

Malaysia

Malaysia is currently the frontrunner in Islamic tourism. Much of the necessary infrastructure is already in place – with roughly 20 million Muslims in the country, the hospitality sector is well equipped.

“Since 2011, Malaysia has been recognized as the top holiday destination for Muslim tourists from around the world,” Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister for Tourism and Culture, told New Straits Times.

“Tourism players from around the world referred to Malaysia when developing an Islamic tourism framework in their respective countries.”

Earlier this year, Malaysia was named the most popular destination for Muslim travelers for the third year at the MasterCard’s Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2017, which was co-published by a leading authority in halal travel and tourism, CrescentRating.

However, other APAC countries are being recognized for the efforts being made to attract Muslims and create a wholesome environment for those who follow the Islamic faith.

Brunei Darussalam

Close behind Malaysia is Brunei Darussalam. Located in the beautiful Indonesian Archipelago, intersecting rivers run through the country, descending from the hilly hinterlands.

Brunei has identified Islamic tourism as a way to boost the economy and diversify the already strong tourism industry. Beyond simply facilitating Islamic travelers, the country is also eager to educate those who are interested in learning about Islam.

Brunei Tourism works with special tour operators like Freme Travel Services to offer Islamic experience tour packages that showcase Sultanate’s Malay Islamic monarchy and trips to the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, Darul ‘Ifta Building that exhibits Islamic artifacts, The Royal Mausoleum, Brunei History Centre among others.

Singapore

Islamic Tourism

Singapore street food is some of the best in the world. Source / shutterstock.com

Muslims only make up a minority of Singapore’s population, at just 15 percent. However, Singapore prides itself on its multicultural values and through this, Muslim travelers can rest assured that their every need will be catered for. There is plenty of halal-certified restaurants all over Singapore and for those wanting to explore where the locals eat, many street vendors offer halal options, too.

Taiwan

Despite pork featuring heavily on many menus across Taiwan, the country comes highly recommended for Muslim travelers. The country’s tourism board has made a huge effort to cater to Muslims dietary requirements as well as building dedicated prayer rooms in hotels.