South Africa is rich in diversity when it comes to culture, race, gender, sexuality and religion, which makes it no surprise that it is ranked as a popular Muslim-friendly travel destination for 2018.

According to the annual Mastercard-Crescent Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), SA has been ranked as one of the ten most Muslim-friendly travel hot spots for 2018 among non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – aka among countries that are not predominantly Muslim countries. The news of this adds a boost to Cape Town Tourism’s ongoing efforts and campaign that seeks to grow and expand this market bracket.

In efforts to drive the awareness around travel preferences and to spread the word about the city being an ideal destination for Muslim travellers, the organisation has implemented a number of initiatives geared toward developing the Muslim-friendly tourism market.

Cape Town Tourism recently released relevant information along with a glossary of terms that tourism businesses can use to gain an understanding of the Muslim travellers’ needs and preferences. The glossary is available online for everyone and anyone interested to view.

They have additionally provided access to CR (Crescent Rating) training that provides a more in-depth look at Halaal tourism and endorses a Crescent Rating/ Mastercard programme. The programme focuses on showcasing on product offerings and special offers that are suitable to the Muslim traveller. Tour operators can get in touch with Cape Town Tourism to be vetted for being added to the packages.

Cape Town Tourism developments:

These developments aren’t a new initiative – they tack onto and yield from years of research into this market as well as existing initial steps. One of these steps includes a Chef Exchange programmethat has already seen local chefs being trained by two five-star chefs from Singapore as well as two local hotel chefs being given the chance to go to Singapore for further exposure and exploration of this culinary style.

Cape Town Tourism will be representing SA at a panel discussion they’ve been invited to. The panel discussion will be taking place at ITB Berlin, which is the world’s leading travel trade show, and will cover the topic of preparing to cater to the needs of the Muslim visitor.

Enver Duminy, Cape Town Tourism CEO, said that there is still more to explore when it comes to marketing Cape Town as a destination than merely showcasing what we already have in place. He believes that we can do more to make our city a welcoming tourism environment for everyone – including those whose needs are specific.

“This means investigating what needs to be done and taking action, and we’re pleased to see this is already having an impact,” added Duminy.

The background:

Part of the intention to uncover how to attract the Muslim traveller involves the in-depth exploration that Cape Town Tourism has conducted to find out what can be done to achieve this.

It is estimated that by 2020 approximately 26% of the world’s population will be Muslim. This coupled with the continued growth of the Muslim middle class and younger population – with increased disposable income – means that Muslim travellers are becoming a significant segment within the global travel and tourism sector. It is with that in mind that had spurred Cape Town Tourism on to seek ways to develop awareness around Muslim travellers’ needs.

A recent study has found that Halaal tourism is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the global travel industry and predicts visitor spending to reach a massive R2782.32 billion (or $220 ­billion USD) by 2020.

Who else made the GMTI list?

The number one spot in this year’s Mastercard Crescent Rating GMTI was snagged by Malaysia, which is nominated as the best Halaal travel destination overall.

It is followed on the list by Indonesia and the UAE.

What the Muslim traveller prioritises in a destination:

In a survey published in the Muslim Travel Shopping Index (MTSI) 2015, more than 80% of the respondents mentioned that the availability of Halaal food options plays a ‘very important’ role when selecting the ideal and best holiday destination. This is the kind of information that had prompted the creation of the Chef Exchange Programme, which has kicked off with a function showcasing gourmet halaal cuisine.

Muslim travellers look for the following faith-based needs when choosing a holiday destination:

  • Halaal food,
  • Salaah (Prayer) and ablution facilities,
  • Ramadan services,
  • no non-Halaal activities and
  • separate recreational facilities for males and females.

Out of these listed points, Halaal food is by far the most important service that a Muslim traveller is looking for when travelling, as they can often make provisions or find alternatives for the rest. Acceptability of the different levels of Halaal food assurance varies among Muslims – aka halaal vs halaal-friendly.

This article was first published by Traveller24 on 23 May 2018