Turkey named fifth top tourism choice of Muslims as Europeans realize gains of halal sector

Turkey has been named the fifth European destination that Muslims from the Middle East and the Far East would like to visit as their next holiday, in an index topped by France.

The Muslim Travel Index Europe 2014 has shown that Turkey is only fifth in the list of countries that appeal to Muslim tourists as a future place to visit, according to a statement released by the Halal Tourism Conference organizers on Aug. 19.

According to the research, France topped the list with 30 percent of popular destinations while Italy and Britain shared second spot with 28 percent. Germany and Turkey made the top five with 26 percent of the vote each, the statement said.  

Experts say that the study shows the potential for Turkey of halal tourism which could be worth billions of dollars to the economy annually, especially due to its strong Islamic heritage.

The index revealed that 93 percent of those traveling abroad said it was important that the country they were visiting had facilities that catered to a halal lifestyle.

The halal tourism sector was worth 103 billion euros in 2013, representing around 13 percent of global travel expenditures. This figure is expected to reach 141 billion euros by 2020.

“We already know that Turkey is already very popular with the Middle East and Malaysian countries, but as the research shows, there is a lot more who would like to come. With the history of Turkey and its strong Islamic heritage and attractions, this is a huge market for the country,” said Tasneem Mahmood of CM Media, which is organizing the world’s first halal tourism conference in Spain in September with the sponsorship of Turkish Airlines.

“For example, 39 percent of residents from the UAE said they would like to visit Turkey for their next holiday. Furthermore, these markets travel in different times of the year which means there are opportunities across 12 months,” he said. “This research represents a great opportunity for tourism boards, tour operators, travel agencies, hotels, restaurants and the entire tourism sector in Turkey.”

He also said there was an increasing need to understand the requirements of Muslim tourists among European countries as they realized the lucrativeness of the markets.

Halal food ‘important’

The Muslim Travel Index Europe 2014 showed that 71 percent of those who wanted to come to Turkey said they wanted to visit because they had never been before and would like to experience the country.

A further 58 percent wanted to come because Turkey has a strong Islamic heritage that they wanted to learn about. Over half, 53 percent, wanted to come for the sight-seeing while 52 percent wanted to experience Turkish culture.

A huge 97 percent said it was important the country of destination provided halal food while 89 percent said it was important to provide praying facilities.

The Muslim Travel Index Europe 2014 looked at the attitudes and behavior of majority Muslim populations to tourism in the future and their experiences of countries they have already visited in Europe.

The survey was conducted with residents from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia who are already frequent visitors to the United Kingdom.

The Halal Tourism Conference, which will be held on Sept. 22 and 23, will bring together the travel industry from around the world to discuss ways of tapping into the niche market.

The event, which is being hosted in Andalusia, aims to equip delegates with market intelligence, industry forecasts and trends to understand how to market to the lucrative Muslim consumers and benefit commercially.

The two-day event hopes to attract tourism boards, tour agencies, tour operators, restaurants, media, hotels and airlines. The event will also feature seminars from industry experts, workshops, networking sessions and an exhibition.

*This article was originally published on Hurriyet Daily News on 20 August 2014. Read the original article here.

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