People, Travel

Spain, Japan Taking Lead in Halal Tourism

Spain, Japan Taking Lead in Halal Tourism Spain, Japan Taking Lead in Halal Tourism

Despite its huge potential for halal tourism, Iran is lagging behind Spain and Japan in attracting Muslim tourists.

Spain drew 2.6 million Muslim tourists in 2014, which constituted 4% of the country’s foreign visitors.

The Halal Institute of Spain has estimated that Muslim visitors’ spending in this country will reach $233 billion by 2020, that is 13% of the total amount of tourist expenditures in the world.

The institute is also planning to launch a website titled International Halal Tourism to get more Muslims to visit the popular European country. The website is meant to be a reference for both Spanish and foreign Muslims as well as a platform to boost commercial activities and market halal tourism.

In Asia, Japan is taking the lead in promoting halal tourism. Japan’s National Travel Agency has announced its intention to establish three “Special Tourism Zones” for Muslim travelers. Preparing special “Islamic-Japanese” cuisine, building clean prayer rooms and raising awareness about certain constraints of the Japanese indigenous culture are among the programs that the East Asian country plans to implement in the zones, Fars News Agency reported.

The fact that non-Islamic countries are making efforts to increase their share of Islamic tourism indicates that Muslims make up a large portion of the world’s travelers. This is a great advantage for Iran, which is a predominantly Muslim country that does not have to invest in setting up halal tourism infrastructure.

Iran’s enormous capacities for Islamic tourism are undeniable. Currently, Muslims from neighboring countries make up the greater part of Iran’s inbound tourists who visit holy shrines and monuments, apart from spending time in leisure centers that comply with Islamic codes.

In fact, based on official reports, religious tourists and pilgrims constitute a third and a half of Iran’s inbound figures.

A 142-billion-dollar industry, halal tourism could help jumpstart Iran’s economy by tapping into the massive global Muslim community. With more than 1.6 billion Muslims in over 100 countries, and the fact that Muslims are increasingly taking up traveling, halal tourism offers huge prospects.

Millions of Muslims in the neighboring countries, who can travel to Iran at much lower costs, provide Iran with the opportunity to take a bigger share of this global market by careful planning, in return for more financially-reasonable investments compared to other countries.   

Therefore, it is essential that Iran’s tourism officials give priority to Muslim travelers and facilitate their entry into the country by widely advertising the country’s religious, cultural and historical attractions.