Halaal tourism: Why isn’t South Africa reaping the benefits?

Here is a peculiar picture: there are 1.8-billion Muslims in the world who, in 2011, spent $126-billion on tourism.

This is 12.3% of the world’s total outbound tourism expenditure. In domestic currency terms it is approximately R1197-billion but South Africa does not see much of it.

To put the sum into context, in 2011 German tourists spent $111.8-billion, travellers from the US spent $93.99-billion, Chinese accounted for $65-billion and residents of the United Kingdom spent $60.6-billion. It is estimated that the world’s Muslim population will be 2.2-billion in 2030 (26.4% of the global population) and that Muslim tourism expenditure is expected to reach $1 92-billion by 2020.

Most Muslim tourists hail from Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Kuwait, Turkey, Nigeria, Malaysia, Qatar and Egypt, with their preferred destinations being Malaysia, Turkey, UAE, Singapore, Russia, China, France, Thailand and Italy. Why? Because these countries cater for halaal tourism, which is the total tourism experience permissible under Islamic law.

Professor Melville Saayman, director of the focus area Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society at the Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University says: “We have an abundance of mosques and restaurants that serve halaal food. South Africa is perfectly geared for halaal tourism and we should start marketing the country as such.

“Halaal tourism is a massive opportunity for the country to expand its influence as we reach previously untapped markets,” says Saayman, who is conducting research on this from a South African perspective.

According to Saayman, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are ideal tourist destinations because of both provinces’ high Muslim contingent. “Besides the restaurants, the mosques and the facilities we have Table Mountain, the Big-Five, pristine beaches, great weather and a very favourable exchange rate. There are ample points of interest all waiting for a new, wealthy market.”

Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Malaysia, Qatar, Russia, France, Libya, the United States, Algeria and Singapore have the most purchasing power, while Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have the largest Muslim populations. “Cities such as Durban and Cape Town must make a conscious decision to focus on these markets and to promote themselves accordingly,” Saayman says.

Amendments do, however, need to be made. Female staff in hotels must observe Islamic dress codes, hotels must provide miswak (a teeth cleaning twig) to Muslim tourists, there must be no alcohol in hotel rooms and toilet and bathroom facilities must be in accordance with Islamic practices. Most important is halaal food. Kitchen must know which foods are allowed and how to prepare them.

These are but a few small adjustments that can turn a peculiar picture into a very lucrative one.

This article was supplied and approved by the Mail & Guardian's advertisers. It forms part of a larger supplement.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Guest Author

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations