World prepares for $145B halal tourism market with conference in Istanbul

World prepares for $145B halal tourism market with conference in Istanbul
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Published September 9th, 2015 - 16:04 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Halal meat available at a French Carrefour supermarket. (AFP/File)
Halal meat available at a French Carrefour supermarket. (AFP/File)
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Turkey is preparing to host an international “halal tourism” conference in March next year for the first time.

Halal tourism is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. In accordance with Islamic values, it offers alcohol- and pork-free services, segregated sports centers and pools, single-sex spa opportunities and masjids [prayer rooms] at the facilities. 

“Our aim with this conference is to standardize and enhance Muslim-friendly tourism market,” Akin Arikan, Vice President of Istanbul-based tourism company Tura — one of the organizers of the conference — said during a press meeting in Istanbul. “This conference is a big opportunity for Turkey, which has a big historic heritage and values.”

The Muslim-friendly industry, the first global emergence of which dates back to 1996, has seen rapid growth since 2006, but continues to be fraught with standardization problems.

The first conference was held in Granada, Spain in 2014.

Sponsored by Turkey's Tourism Ministry and the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), the second conference will be held in Halic Congress Center in Istanbul on March 21-23.

The three-day conference aims to bring together representatives from international tour agencies, tour operators, restaurants, hotels and airlines in a bid to discuss how to bolster this growing industry. 

The Global Muslim Travel Index 2015 released by MasterCard and Singapore-based Crescent Rating estimated the size of the global halal tourism market at $145 billion in 2014. Their figure of 108 million Muslim travelers represents 10% of the whole travel economy.

There are 1.8 billion Muslims around the world; 50 million of them are living in Europe.

“Turkey has an extremely strong economy and has rich Islamic heritage for hundreds of years. For example, Dubai or Malaysia does not have such a history,” told Bilal Domah, London-based event management company, CM Media, one of the organizers of the conference.

“I believe Turkey will definitely become the leader of this sector,” he added. 

According to the Crescent Rating, Malaysia has been rated the world’s top halal-friendly holiday destination. The United Arab Emirates and Turkey follow it in second and third spots, respectively.

Cuneyt Cetin, the general manager of Istanbul-based tourism company Evratur, another organizer, also stresses the importance of Turkey's potential to be a leader of halal tourism. 

“If Turkey makes the correct investments and realize the halal certification process, I believe it will take a $45 billion share from the market,” Cetin said.

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