Turkey eyes larger share in global halal tourism

BETÜL ALAKENT
Istanbul
Published

Turkey's tourism sector representatives have said that the country currently holds a 2 percent share in the $226 billion global halal tourism market but looks to raise that share to 10 percent.

The Turkish tourism sector, after a challenging period in 2015 and 2016, took steps to develop alternative tourism and increased its share in the halal tourism market by 20 percent in 2017.

It also boosted the number of beds in halal tourism by almost tenfold. Now, Turkey ranks in the top five halal tourism destinations across the globe.

Yunus Ete, the chairman of World Halal Summit Council, said that in 2017, 156 million Muslims traveled as the size of the halal tourism market exceeded $226 billion. He added that Turkey has claimed a 2 percent share of this market.

"Turkey ranks fourth in the halal tourism market after Malaysia, Dubai and Indonesia," he said.

Ete pointed out that the number of guests in Turkey's halal tourism market has rapidly increased. "Turkey hosted some 3 million people last year in halal tourism. But it is still far below the potential. If we can claim 10 percent of this market, we will see a serious jump in our income," Ete said.

The World Halal Summit Council chairman said that in line with the increased awareness about the halal market, investments have also gained mom entum. "For instance, Spain is investing heavily in the Andalusian region and has accelerated efforts to open new hotels with a halal concept," he said.

Talha Çizmeci, a board member at Vizyon Turizm and founding member of the International Halal Tourism Association, said Turkey urgently needs to develop comprehensive strategies for the Muslim travel market in Europe, Russia, the Gulf, Arab countries and Africa.

"There are no obstacles for Turkey to grab a higher share from this market. We can reach serious growth figures only by entering these new markets," Çizmeci said.

Halalbooking.com Sales and Marketing Director Ufuk Seçkin said the demand for Turkey grows exponentially.

"We sent 35,000 people to Turkey in 2017. In 2016 this figure was around 18,000. This year the demand is much higher.

We expect 80,000 visitors by the end of the year," he said.

Underlining that 70 percent of their guests are made non-Turkish Muslims, Seçkin said that there is an illusion in our halal tourism market that only the Turks in Europe prefer Turkey.

"However, the rate of non-Turkish Muslims booking through our site is much higher," he added.

Seçkin said the halalbooking.com receives booking requests from more than 70 countries. "The top five countries that prefer Turkey as a halal tourism destination include Germany, the U.K, Belgium, France and the Netherlands," he said.

He added that the demand for halal tourism in Turkey has grown by an average 50 percent in the last five years. "The number of beds increased tenfold.

Five years ago there were five or six resorts with the halal concept in the Antalya-Alanya region, that number is close to 50 now," Seçkin concluded.

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