Muslim travellers are predicted to contribute US$300bn to the global economy in the next decade and the market has shifted from niche to a mainstream one, according to Mastercard and Crescent Rating.

“In time, we will also see more Muslim travellers become trend setters. They will continue to be instrumental in correcting misunderstandings and clarifying narratives about halal tourism and Muslims in general,” said Fazal Bahardeen, founder and CEO, Crescent Rating.

Safdar Khan, Mastercard's EVP Southeast Asia, noted that a major emerging theme is that, as Muslim travellers’ spending power and destination awareness increases, so do these travellers’ sense of responsibility.

“This attitude helps build up local communities as this demographic embraces the world - an indication that embracing diversity begins a positive cycle that ripples out its benefits worldwide,” he added.

In the latest edition of the Halal in Travel Frontier Report, Mastercard and Crescent Rating outline key trends that will shape halal tourism development in 2020:

Emergence of the “Muslim social impact travel” spirit

A growing number of Muslim travellers are increasingly conscious of making a social impact when they travel. They seek immersive local cultural experiences that are ethical and sustainable and additionally, want to contribute to local economies in a meaningful way.

Sustainability as core for halal travel

Sustainability will become increasingly central to shaping both business and consumer decisions in the tourism sector. Future travellers will begin to reward destinations and companies that are able to provide quality services while being eco-friendly and culturally respectful.

Multiple activities driving growth for Muslim female travellers

According to the Mastercard Crescent Rating Muslim Women in Travel (MWIT) Report 2019, Muslim women comprise 45% of the Muslim travel market. The continued growth of this segment in 2020 will lead to a greater dynamism of activities involving Muslim women travellers.

In addition, there will be a surge in the variety of products and services designed to meet the unique needs of this group. While 71% of Muslim women usually travel with their family, 29% also travelled in an all-female group while 28% travel solo.

Reframing of halal tourism for inbound markets

The last several years have witnessed both Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and non-OIC destinations racing to capture the halal travel market by building their capability and capacity. But for some destinations, such efforts are giving rise to misunderstandings that are stifling growth. There is a need to reiterate to stakeholders that halal tourism ultimately emphasises an inclusive environment and does not refer to being Muslim-exclusive.

Towards a global travel wallet for travellers

Enabled by advancements in security features such as facial recognition and biometrics, e-wallets and mobile payments are rapidly growing in popularity among travellers. This year will see increased usage and popularity of e-commerce payments among travellers, as more and more merchants embrace efficient, secure and convenient digital payment methods.

Future ready travel sector for Gen Z and Gen Alpha

In the year 2020, Gen Z Muslims will be in the workforce and playing a key role in determining the next phase of halal travel. In addition, Gen Alpha will also play an important part in shaping the travel behaviours of families. The travel sector in 2020 needs to be future-ready for both these generations.

Gen Z Muslims prefer travel experiences that are authentic, affordable and accessible. However, they are also highly adaptable to different cultures and contexts and can successfully juggle their travel limitations.

Technology is deeply embedded with Gen Alpha. Services can alleviate the worries faced by parents by signalling to them in advance that they welcome and are well-equipped to take care of Gen Alpha. This can include providing tailored edutainment and suitable activities during various travel touchpoints, as well as special family discounts and packages.

The Daud Kim effect

Daud Kim is a former Korean singer who has become a popular vlogger chronicling his journey into Islam. His YouTube channel has amassed over 1.1 million subscribers and contains more than 200 videos.

In 2020, this trend of user-generated content by storytellers such as Daud Kim will pick up to inspire more content creators to share their own stories and help in shaping the Muslim-friendly travel environment.

Umrah DIY: Tech innovation and the gold rush for behaviour data

The next battle of the Umrah [pilgrimage] market will be in the digital space. There will be increasing competition to cater to the needs of those doing Umrah on their own and technology will be key in facilitating multiple Umrah travel needs and touchpoints.

This includes learning about the customs, rituals and Umrah locations via 360-degree live video streams, receiving guided augmented tours via smartphones and sharing their experiences during Umrah via high-speed connections.

Sourced from Crescent Rating, Mastercard