Home / Asia / Happy halaldays: how Asia became a traveller Mecca for Muslims

Happy halaldays: how Asia became a traveller Mecca for Muslims

China-born tour association owners Amina Liu was not formulation to start a business when she and her father left their home in New Jersey in 2014 for a holiday in China.

When one of her husband’s colleagues listened about a trip, he asked to join them. The co-worker is a practising Muslim, as are a Lius, and he suspicion they would know his concerns about things like gripping halal while on a road.

Faced with a daunting charge of operative out an itinerary, hotels, transport, and locating halal dining options in a denunciation he did not speak, he offering to compensate a Lius if they would take caring of it all for him.

Liu organised a 14-day outing to Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Yiwu, along a approach eating halal dishes with no pork, lard, or alcohol. When his cousins in Britain listened about a man’s trip, they contacted Liu to assistance devise one of their own, and their cousins in Germany and Malaysia did a same. Halal China Tours was born.

The association is drumming a sepulchral marketplace for Muslim travel. Mastercard estimates a tellurian marketplace is value scarcely US$200 billion and will grow to US$300 billion by 2030, creation it one of a fastest-growing segments of a tourism industry. Nearly US$34 billion is already being spent in Asia alone.

By distant a biggest spenders come from Saudi Arabia and a United Arab Emirates, with rich Gulf travellers spending some-more than US$40 billion globally final year. Indonesia comes third in output by Muslim travellers, during US$7.5 billion and growing, with Malaysia spending about half that, followed by Singaporeans. Outbound Muslim travellers from Asia, quite from Malaysia and Indonesia, are set to spend some-more than those from Europe within a subsequent dual years.

How Hong Kong, Japan and Korea won over Muslim travellers

While Muslim travellers from a Middle East and Europe revisit Asia on oppulance beach holidays, eccentric millennials from Indonesia and Malaysia are flocking to Japan and South Korea in hunt of halal sushi and selling in Seoul.

The nations receiving a many Muslim travellers globally are Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar. In Asia, a tip destinations are Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and China, with Japan and South Korea entrance tighten behind.

Eighty per cent of transport in Asia is intra-regional, according to a World Tourism Organisation, and a fast-growing shred of younger Muslim travellers from Southeast Asia is streamer to non-Muslim-majority destinations like Japan, Thailand, and Korea. By 2020 half of all tourism jobs combined globally by a Muslim tourism marketplace will be in Asia.

Ten years ago, Fazal Bahardeen, 54, was travelling a universe as a telecommunications executive. A Singaporean citizen innate in Sri Lanka, Bahardeen mostly worked in China. He spent a lot of time in hotel bedrooms during business trips. But in all his travels he beheld that arguable information was tough to find about where to eat halal, that airports had request spaces, and that hotels and restaurants served alcohol. So he started a list.

Arabia: a new Mecca for Chinese medical tourists?

Today, Bahardeen is no longer a telecommunications executive, and a list has blossomed into Singapore-based Crescent Rating, that accredits liberality organisations catering to Muslim travellers – and conducts marketplace investigate now looked to by tellurian attention leaders as a barometer for a multibillion-dollar Muslim transport market.

Crescent Rating partners with Mastercard to recover a annual Global Muslim Travel Index, a ranking of 130 destinations formed on accessibility to Muslim travellers. Bahardeen recently returned from a outing to South Africa, where among other activities, he led a seminar for 40 hotel chefs on how to ready high-end halal cuisine.


When Nabil Ismailiya had a event to attend Guangzhou’s famous Canton import-export fair, he jumped during a chance. The father of two, creatively from Reading, only outward London, organised a 12-day outing to China and Hong Kong in 2015 with Halal China Tours.

Liu helped him try halal Chinese food notwithstanding a denunciation barrier. Before travelling to China, Ismailiya had also done trips to Tokyo in 2011 and Seoul in 2013.

“Korea unequivocally astounded me,” he said. “So many people pronounce English, and when they see we as a traveller only speak to we on a subway.”

In further to recommendation from locals, Ismailiya used sites such as Zabihah to locate dining options on a road. Zabihah facilities crowdsourced reviews of halal dining offerings all over a universe and has some-more than 20 million annual users.

To accommodate a needs of flourishing numbers of travellers such as Ismailiya, Shigeru Yamashita non-stop a Syariah Hotel Fujisan in 2016 during a feet of Mount Fuji in Japan.

Like Korea, Japan has welcomed an liquid in Muslim travellers over a past several years. In 2017, 358,000 tourists from Muslim-majority Indonesia arrived in Japan, adult from only 80,000 in 2010.

Seeing a boost in Muslim travellers entrance to his area, Yamashita offers a request area and outlines a instruction of a qiblah (an arrow indicating towards Mecca) in any room during his hotel.

All a dishes are Japanese-style cuisine prepared in a approved halal kitchen, and a hotel is smoke- and alcohol-free.

Why are so many Muslims unexpected visiting Japan?

For Malaysian Melvin Goh, who co-founded Singapore-based website Have Halal Will Travel in 2015, transport is a absolute force for assent and understanding.

With scarcely 100,000 supporters on Instagram, Have Halal Will Travel publishes guides and reviews to cities internationally, and has named Hong Kong a tip end of 2018 in partnership with a Hong Kong Tourism Board. The site reaches over 9 million singular users a month.

Goh’s prophesy for a height crystallised over cooking with businessmen in Japan. “I realised whatever we pronounced was going to figure this organisation of people’s opinion about Muslims,” pronounced Goh, who is Muslim.

“If we can remonstrate some-more Muslims to travel, we can change peoples’ opinions about Muslims, and also inspire Muslims to demeanour outward of themselves.

“People always ask how vast a marketplace is or how most travellers are spending, though this doesn’t matter if everybody is during fight with any other.”


The marketplace for Muslim transport has undergone outrageous change in a past 10 years, pronounced Crescent Rating’s Bahardeen. Thanks to reports like a Global Muslim Travel Index, vital multinational companies realised a zone was a flourishing and mostly untapped market.

The World Tourism Organisation reports that Asia was a second-most visited universe marketplace final year, after Europe, and that tourism to Asia is flourishing twice as quick as a tellurian average. Driving a numbers: a superiority of mobile record and internet entrance opposite a continent, and millennials.

“The comparison era cite to hang to Muslim countries,” pronounced Elena Nikolova, a traveller behind successful amicable media comment Muslim Travel Girl. “Halal food is simply permitted and there is no problem of carrying to consider of where to eat. They know they will be welcomed and they won’t find problems in terms of injustice or places to pray.

“The marketplace has altered so much, we see now a lot some-more womanlike Muslims exploring on their own, that is great.”

In 2013 Nikolova wanted to perform umrah – a revisit to Mecca – with her husband, though a immature Britain-based integrate found a cost of craft tickets prohibitive. Nikolova review adult on airline deals and was means to make a outing for reduction than US$400. It went so good that she wrote a book to inspire other Muslims to transport some-more widely, and has drawn tens of thousands of supporters to Muslim Travel Girl.

Social media has played a quite vast purpose in millennial Muslims’ seductiveness in travel. With some-more than 370 million internet users in Southeast Asia and a appearance of low-cost atmosphere transport out of Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, travellers are increasingly desirous to embark on practice that have concurrently turn some-more permitted to them, formulating a swell in Muslim travellers.

Mobile apps like Halal Trip concede travellers to find out a instruction of a qiblah from anywhere in a world, calculate request times while on long-haul flights, and locate a nearest mosques and halal restaurants as good as engagement hotel and debate packages.

In further to being some-more eccentric travellers, millennial Muslims are also guided by their values and sensitive by their faith in selecting transport options. They uncover an seductiveness in sustainability, ethics, and being means to rivet in use or volunteering as partial of experiencing a new place.

“Millennial travellers transport for a experience,” pronounced Goh. “They burst from place to place acid for definition in life. For Muslim travellers, anticipating definition in life is destined by Islam, and find of their place in a universe and a purpose of life.

“This isn’t an overnight change, it is a story still watchful to happen. This is only a beginning.”

Article source: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/lifestyle-culture/article/2178098/happy-halaldays-how-asia-became-tourist-mecca-muslims