In the global tourism sector, the Muslim travel market is extensively recognised as a prominent growing sector, projecting to be well worth $200 billion by 2020 according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015, which is the most comprehensive research that has been released on the sector.
A recent study has revealed that in 2015 the estimated total Muslim visitor arrivals were 117 million representing close to 10% of the entire travel economy. This global forecast is set to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 and 11% of the market segment.
South Africa is also one of the five most popular non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations in the global Muslim travel market. Enver Duminy, CEO at Cape Town Tourism highlights how the city is repositioning its Halaal Tourism offering.
"Cape Town is as much about the people and the culture as it is about the mountain and the sea.
The city has a vibrant range of cultures representing our locals, other African nations and international ones. At the heart of our city you’ll find a lively Muslim community whose heritage is closely linked to the history of the Cape. Muslim visitors may be surprised to find themselves so at home in the city, with plenty to see and do.
This city provides a welcoming environment for visitors, and this is true of Muslim visitors, too. Muslim visitors from the UAE, Saudi, Iran, Singapore, UK, USA, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Qatar and from within South Africa will find that there are places of accommodation that cater for their needs, restaurants with Halaal offerings and many tourism businesses geared towards Halaal tourism.
It’s a form of niche tourism we excel at, and we are ideally placed to build on the foundations we already have in this area and market the city more to potential visitors. In part, Halaal tourism is based on the heritage we have, but it’s also about reinventing our approach to this, so creating more experiences with fresh offerings to add value. The potential is so great that we could feasibly reposition it from being niche tourism to a major focus for local tourism companies.
South Africa is one of the five most popular non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations in the global Muslim travel market, so this indicates the room for growth.
Halaal tourism is well-catered for; some points of interest include the iconic Bo-Kaap with its brightly-painted houses, the many mosques around the city, kramats at various places and numerous eateries.
More than that, however, Muslim travellers are just as keen on visiting the big attractions of the city and enjoying nature and wildlife. The beaches are popular with Halaal tourists, and retail experiences such as the V&A Waterfront also appeal.
While the quaint spice shops and smaller community experiences offer a fascinating glimpse into Muslim life in Cape Town, the Halaal tourist is also interested in luxury, high-end fashion, diamond tours, top hotels – all of these are aspirational and desirable.
There are tour companies especially geared towards the Halaal visitor, offering tours that incorporate places of cultural interest, and many tour companies also employ Arabic-speaking guides.
With direct international flights on the rise, access has never been better. Turkey is a hub for air traffic in Europe, and there are direct flights via Turkish Airlines to Cape Town that make the long-haul trip that much easier.
Cape Town could, with a concentrated market effort on the part of tourism professionals across the spectrum, become a global leader in Halaal tourism, and the number-one destination for Muslim holidaymakers.
*Enver Duminy is a lifetime Capetonian and the CEO at Cape Town Tourism who knows all about the Mother City.
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