Thousands of delegates are expected to attend the world's biggest international conference on halal tourism, an industry now worth more than $150 billion. The Halal Tourism Conference 2016 is being held on May 3 through May 5 this year at the Mevlana Cultural Center in the southwestern Anatolian city of Konya, bringing together some of the world's leading names in the travel industry.
More than 1,000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the conference, including tourism boards, travel agencies, tour operators, hotel representatives and airline companies. This year's event will also feature companies sponsoring the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca required of every Muslim who can afford it and is physically able to make it - and Umrah - circumambulation of the Kaaba in Mecca - financial institutions and food and beverage companies.
The "Developing Halal Tourism Industries" conference is a two-day event that will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions and workshops, as well as the unveiling of new campaigns and projects. In tandem with the conference, there will also be a three-day exhibition featuring more than 100 businesses from around the world. This is the second time the event is being held in Europe, after the success of the conference's inaugural event in Spain.
A recent study has revealed that the estimated number of Muslim visitors in 2015 were 117 million, nearly 10 percent of the entire travel economy. That number is expected to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 - 11 percent of the total market - with a value expected to exceed $200 billion.
Organizer Bilal Domah, from the United Kingdom-based CM Media group, said the 2016 conference will be the biggest in Europe. "The halal travel sector is now at a critical stage of its development, and this conference will reflect the trends of the market," he said. The event will seek to move the debate to where the sector is heading and how the various industries that form halal tourism can be developed, according to Domah. "We have some of the most renowned names in the sector [that] will be part of a very exciting event that will shape the future of the halal tourism industry. Our first event in Spain was a ground-breaking event, and we are confident that, with our experience and partners, this will be another memorable event. This is a not-to-be-missed chance to get businesses across the world together to showcase what's planned for the industry going forward, and it's going to be another exciting event," he added.
Confirmed guest speakers at the event include Dr. Bandar Fahad al-Fehaid, who is part of the delegation from the Arab Tourism Organization of the Arab League, Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of Crescentrating & HalalTrip, Shaza Hotels President and CEO Simon Coombs, Culture and Tourism Ministry Promotion Director-General Irfan Onal and Dinar Standard CEO Rafi-Uddin Shikoh.
The conference will be hosted alongside an exhibition that will last for three days with the final day opened to the public and trading sectors. It will feature more than 100 exhibitors from Turkey and around the world.