Diversify and digitise to attract younger Muslim travellers, GCC destinations told at ATM 2019

Diversify and digitise to attract younger Muslim travellers, GCC destinations told at ATM 2019
  • Hospitality firms should offer tailored, halal-friendly products to appeal to younger Muslim travellers, experts tell attendees at ATM 2019
  • Halal tourism expected to create 1.2 million jobs in the Middle East by 2020
  • More than 40 per cent of Muslim travellers’ global outbound spending comes from the UAE and Saudi Arabia


Gulf hospitality operators looking to increase their share of the growing halal tourism market should diversify and digitise their offerings to suit younger generations of Muslim travellers, according to experts speaking at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019.

With the GDP impact of Muslim travel in the Middle East on course to hit USD 36 billion by 2020 – up from USD 30.5 billion in 2017, according to Salam Standard – halal tourism represents a lucrative prospect for GCC hospitality brands. The segment is expected to create 1.2 million regional direct and indirect jobs by next year.


Representatives from Wego, DinarStandard, Shaza Hotels, Tripfez, Serendipity Tailormade, Mosafer C by Ummah Collaboration, holidayme, Orange County Visitors Association, Cape Town Tourism and Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) explored ways to tap into the growing segment of Gen Z and millennial travellers at the Global Halal Tourism Summit 2019, which took place on ATM’s Global Stage.


Mamoun Hmedan, Managing Director – MENA and India, Wego, said: “There are new destinations popping up out of nowhere. Developers are building properties from scratch, with halal-friendly offerings that are designed to appeal to younger generations of Muslim travellers.


“Wego does a lot of work on social media and collaborates with tourism boards to educate people about the opportunities available to them when they travel. We make sure we always have options for our customers to look for properties near to mosques or attractions that may be of interest to Muslim travellers.”


Approximately 41 per cent of Muslim travellers’ global outbound spending comes from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, according to figures released by Salam Standard. The Middle East’s total outbound spend is projected to grow to USD 72 billion by 2020.


In addition to emerging trends such as eco, ethical, all-female, experiential, gastro and adventure tourism, panellists also discussed digitisation and success stories from ‘non-Muslim’ destinations such as Orange County, Cape Town and Japan.


Chris Nader, Vice President, Shaza Hotels, said: “Gen Z and millennial travellers are setting the trends in halal tourism. The biggest challenge for us involves the resort side of the market – providing the privacy and facilities that Muslim guests need while delivering the entertainment they are looking for. It can be a challenge to create that mix.


“Whenever we create a resort, we have to develop something that is culturally relevant to the location. Travellers are no longer looking for ‘just a hotel’; they want to know what we can offer in terms of experiences. So, Muslim travellers don’t necessarily need to see halal branding but they do need to know that halal services are available.”


Industry-wide investment in halal tourism-related travel technology currently stands at approximately USD 40 million, according to research conducted by DinarStandard. Panellists agreed that this figure is likely to grow further in the future, as younger Muslim travellers continue to drive innovation in online services.


Faeez Fadhlillah, CEO, Tripfez, said: “If you look at the distribution of millennials globally, many of them are living in Muslim-majority countries. In the next 10 years, the youth in this region are going to play a significant role in driving tourism trends. That’s why online travel agencies are so interested in meeting demand from Muslim travellers. Companies are doing everything they can to capture this market.”


Running until Wednesday, 1 May, ATM 2019 will see more than 2,500 exhibitors showcase their products and services at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). Viewed by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) tourism sector, last year’s edition of ATM welcomed 39,000 people, representing the largest exhibition in the history of the show.


For more information about ATM 2019, visit: https://arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com.




About Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

Arabian Travel Market is the leading international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2018 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, with representation from 141 countries over the four days. The 25th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre.  Arabian Travel Market 2019 will take place in Dubai from Sunday, 28 April to Wednesday, 1 May, 2019. To find out more, please visit: www.arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com.


About Arabian Travel Week

Arabian Travel Week is an umbrella brand comprising four co-located shows including Arabian Travel Market and ILTM Arabia, as well as CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa – a new route development forum launching this year and ATM’s first ever consumer event ATM Holiday Shopper. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector – under one roof over the course of one week – the inaugural Arabian Travel Week will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from Saturday 27 April to Wednesday 1 May, 2019. For more information visit: arabiantravelweek.com.



CONNECT Route Development Forum delivers a total networking experience, bringing together airports, airlines and aviation suppliers in a format that offers formal one-to-one pre-arranged meetings, engaging industry seminars together with social opportunities to cement relationships with existing clients and engage with new ones. Created and organised by The Airport Agency-France, CONNECT is now in its 16th year and set to attract more 650 participants in June 2019 at its flagship event taking place in Cagliari, Sardinia. For more information, visit: www.connect-aviation.com.


The inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa event will be the brand’s first and only networking forum in the Middle East. Ideally located in Dubai to address the booming aviation market of the Middle East, it will bring together the aviation and the tourism industries, which are the backbone and catalyst of economic development. For more information, visit: www.connect-aviation.com/2019-meia/.


About ATM Holiday Shopper

ATM Holiday Shopper is the brand-new travel event for consumers offering the very best travel and tourism discounts and deals, plus the chance to learn about a range of emerging and unexplored destinations and activities from destinations around the world.  The inaugural event will take place in Hall 1 of the Dubai World Trade Centre on Saturday, 27 April, 2019 from 12:00 – 20:00. For more information, visit: www.atmholidayshopper.com.


About ILTM Arabia

International Luxury Travel Market Arabia is an exclusive event for those looking to attract HNW travellers from the Middle East to their destination. Returning for its third year, ILTM will allow international luxury suppliers and key luxury buyers to connect via one-to-one pre-scheduled appointments and networking opportunities. ILTM will take place on Sunday 28th April and Monday 29th April 2019. For more information, visit: www.iltm.com/arabia/.


About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events business, enhancing the power of face to face through data and digital tools at over 500 events a year, in more than 30 countries, attracting more than seven million participants.


About Reed Travel Exhibitions

Reed Travel Exhibitions is the world’s leading travel and tourism events organiser with a growing portfolio of more than 22 international travel and tourism trade events in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our events are market leaders in their sectors, whether it is global and regional leisure travel trade events, or specialist events for meetings, incentives, conference, events (MICE) industry, business travel, luxury travel, travel technology as well as golf, spa and ski travel. We have over 35 years’ experience in organising world-leading travel exhibitions.


About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) portfolio comprises six leading B2B events across four continents, generating more than USD 7 billion of industry deals. These events include:


WTM London, a must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. About 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating about GBP 3.4 billion of travel industry contracts. The next edition will take place from 4-6 November, 2019. For more information, visit: http://london.wtm.com/.


Travel Forward, a new travel technology event co-located with WTM London and part of the WTM portfolio of events. The inaugural Travel Forward conference, exhibition and buyer programme will take place from 4-6 November, 2019 at ExCeL London, showcasing next-generation technology for travel and hospitality. For more information, visit: http://travelforward.wtm.com/.


WTM Latin America, an exhibition that attracts about 9,000 senior executives and generates about USD 374 million of new business. Taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this show attracts a global audience to meet and shape the direction of the travel industry. More than 8,000 unique visitors attend the event to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry news. The next edition will take place in 2020. For more information, visit: http://latinamerica.wtm.com/.


WTM Africa, which was launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors. The next event will take place in 2020. For more information, visit: http://africa.wtm.com/.


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