Next week, the inaugural Africa Halal Weeks kicks off in Cape Town, offering local Halal businesses and international buyers a platform to meet and interact.

The three-day event will host at least 70 businesses, and a group of more than 30 buyers and investors from around the world, from trade exhibitions, business-to-business meetings and discussions around all aspects of the Halal market, including tourism, food, modest fashion, Islamic finance and Muslim film.

According to Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, South Africa has been ranked one of the ten most Muslim-friendly travel destinations for 2018 among non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries in the annual MasterCard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI).

Alan Winde, Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunities and Member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament said: “We’ve seen Halal relevant exports grow by R900 million (€53.5m) since the start of the project to reach R10.2 billion (€606m) in 2017 and we hope to keep up this momentum and situate the province as the premier Halal market in Africa. Africa Halal Week, together with the numerous outward missions Wesgro has conducted this year plays a large role in marketing the province’s Halal offerings to the rest of the world.”

Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris commented: “Growing at double the rate of the non-Muslim world, it is predicted that the global Muslim population will equate to 31% by 2060. This provides exciting trade, tourism and investment opportunities for the Cape, as we seek to establish the province as Africa’s Halal hub. We trust that the week’s programme will provide attendees with a better understanding of the business opportunities within the Halal sector in Cape Town and the Western Cape, the rest of Africa and globally.”

The MasterCard Halal Trip report for 2018 also indicates that tourism opportunities catering for the Muslim market are a fast-developing market. According to the report, the global Muslim tourism market is set to reach $220 billion (€191.4bn) by 2020. 131 million Muslim visitor arrivals were recorded in 2017, expected to grow to 156 million by 2020.

“Given the growth of the Muslim middle class and younger population with increased disposable income, Muslim travellers are becoming a significant segment within the global travel and tourism sector. With that in mind, we have been seeking ways to develop awareness around Muslim travellers’ needs,” added Duminy.

Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager for Protea Hotels by Marriott added: “Tourists’ expectations, preferences and needs differ from age to age and within cultural and religious expectations. While these requirements all represent different preferences and backgrounds, these create an opportunity for niche travel products and services. There’s increasing interest in Cape Town from Muslim tourists, so this represents a great opportunity for tourism professionals to up their game in what’s on offer. Although the Muslim-friendly tourism market is still in its early days, there’s lots the Muslim traveller can enjoy in the city all year round.”

In conclusion, Winde said: “The Western Cape is already home to an established and historic Muslim population, allowing Muslim visitors from around the globe to experience a diverse cultural experience. By opening up new routes through our Air Access initiative, we’re making it easier than ever before to travel to Cape Town. Africa Halal Week was established to showcase all of these aspects of the Halal market to potential investors and buyers, and to develop an understanding of what we have to offer as a Halal market.”

This article was first published by Tourism Update on 10 October 2018.