What are people's perceptions of halal food

Stay informed!

Halal tourism: an opportunity for the Swiss market?

Blog from the series "Back to normality ... reason and prudence ..."

Halal tourism is on the rise all over the world. And the idea that “Muslim-friendly” hotels can also attract non-Muslim guests is gaining ground. In Switzerland, tourists from the Gulf States raised CHF 413 million in 2016.

Halalbooking.com

Halal tourism has been on the rise around the world in recent years. A notable development is the emergence of online booking platforms such as Halalbooking.com, which are specifically aimed at people of Muslim faith. Halalbooking.com offers accommodations, destinations and activities that respect Sharia values. The Sharia is a value system that represents various doctrinal, social and cultural norms and rules in Islam. It offers Muslim tourists the opportunity to receive a prayer kit including a prayer mat, which also contains a Koran and a compass. Some establishments prohibit alcohol and offer halal food. Others offer bathing areas reserved for women or men, be it in spas, swimming pools or on the beach.

However, trying to determine exactly what the Halal tourist wants remains a difficult endeavor, as the interpretation of Sharia law varies widely from one Muslim culture to another. Indeed, societies with a Muslim tradition are very diverse. There is nothing monolithic here, except for the label "Muslim" on the tourist. Nevertheless, there are some “must-haves” that tourist providers can use as a guide. For example, it is a must to offer your customers an opportunity to pray and to offer catering that corresponds to the Halal philosophy.

Muslim-friendly »accommodation

Many countries have already decided in favor of halal tourism in order not to miss the opportunity to reach this affluent clientele. According to crescentrating.com, tourism consumption by Muslim visitors accounted for 12.3 percent of global tourism spending in 2019, with a total of 283 billion US dollars. Turkey has a committed policy in support of this type of tourism. However, there is a lack of studies on Western tourists' perceptions of this type of tourism, as shown by a study published in the Journal of Islamic Marketing. To what extent are non-Muslim tourists actually willing to purchase certain types of halal products and services from the tourism industry? Answers to this question are of interest to Muslim travel destinations such as Indonesia or Turkey, which want to attract non-Muslim tourists to their hotels. Because the idea that “Muslim-friendly” hotels can also attract non-Muslim guests is beginning to take hold. In these countries, this type of facility already attracts many non-practicing families because it offers tranquility and guaranteed quality service in a luxurious atmosphere. The attention paid to guests is the hallmark of these high-end accommodations. Perhaps halal food could appeal to certain segments of Western customers, even if the current political context favors negative perceptions on the part of non-Muslims. And that is not the only barrier to be overcome, given the prejudices and preconceptions that exist between Western and Muslim cultures.

Tourism: «A question of adaptation»

But tourism is about adaptation, explains Marco von Euw, a hotel owner in Interlaken, in a report on Islamic tourism published in the Le Temps newspaper in 2017. Interlaken is the most popular travel destination in Switzerland for tourists from the Middle East (14% of stays). And the figures from the time before the pandemic are a reminder of the interest in this market: in 2016, the Bernese health resort took first place in terms of overnight stays from the Gulf States (124,000) in Geneva. In Switzerland, tourism from the Gulf states brings in CHF 413 million, a quarter of which in the Interlaken region alone! That makes you think when it comes to restarting the Swiss tourism machine in the post-pandemic era.

credentials

Athmani J. (2017). Interlaken, la nouvelle Mecque du tourisme islamique; Le Temps. https://www.letemps.ch/grand-format/tourisme-islamique

Battour, M., Hakimian, F., Ismail, M. and Boğan, E. (2018), "The perception of non-Muslim tourists towards halal tourism: Evidence from Turkey and Malaysia",Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 823-840. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIMA-07-2017-0072

Boğan, E. and Sarıışık, M. (2019), "Halal tourism: conceptual and practical challenges",Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 87-96. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIMA-06-2017-0066

Jellypages.com (2019) Switzerland is the Top destination for Muslims. (2019) https://www.jellypages.com/business/Switzerland-is-the-Top-destination-for-Muslims-h83776.html

Junaidi, J. (2020). Halal-friendly tourism and factors influencing halal tourism. Management Science Letters, 10 (8), 1755-1762.

Reportages et investigations (2020). Le tourisme Halal - Business et religion - Documentaire complet HD [Video file]. https://youtu.be/MVVoMdaitz8

Ce blog a été rédigé sur la base du travail de Marie Jacquier, étudiante en tourisme à la HES-SO Valais-Wallis, Suisse.

Cover photo: Pixabay, Gerd Attman