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Exploring the Potential of Green Halal Tourism for Sustainable Travel

Updated: Jun 2

Nowadays sustainability has become one of the influencing factors for the success of tourism destinations and development. One relatively new idea within the sector called Green Halal Tourism, possesses the distinct potential towards sustainability; striving for a positive economic, environmental and socio-cultural impact. The concept promotes tourism products, services, and infrastructure that are specifically tailored to the demands of Muslim tourists such as food, cosmetics, textiles and tour packages, finance, as well as transportation. Many countries have thus begun to market green and halal tourism especially when global Muslim tourists are expected to reach 230 billion by 2026.

But is green halal tourism only for the Muslims?

The concept of green halal tourism includes traveling to green and natural destinations, offering products and services that take into account Islamic laws and target not just Muslims but non-Muslims as well. Green and natural destinations prioritize the well-being of both local residents and tourists while protecting the environment and biodiversity. These locations provide distinctive chances for remarkable eco-adventures and are in tune with nature encounters. Tourists can support sustainable tourism and contribute to the preservation of the environment for future generations by deciding to visit these places. So, green halal tourism does not necessarily mean it needs to be hosted by Muslim-majority countries but rather, it is an open concept without racial difference, where it can be hosted by any countries that want to attract and welcome the enormous Muslim travelers.

Green halal tourism is in fact a broader idea that unites Islamic principles with environmentally friendly behaviors, making it appropriate for all tourists who value moral and ethical travel experiences, regardless of their religious background. It is already becoming a trend where countries that have little Muslim population (non-OIC countries) are accommodating Halal tourism services such as Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom and Hong Kong amongst others.

As a rapidly emerging trend, green halal tourism combines sustainability principles with Islamic values and guidelines in the tourism industry. It has been studied and found that the development of responsible and sustainable tourism products through responsible business practices aligns with Islam practices and hence, Muslim travel preferences. Research shows that the point at which Islam, digital accessibility, community, and sustainability all intersect is where new tourism products and services are created that give value both to the traveler and the destination. Products and services at this point will undoubtedly bring benefits to local economies and travelers. This is illustrated in Figure 1 below.    

Figure 1: The sustainable model for halal tourism

The sustainable model for halal tourism

Therefore, green halal tourism can promote the wider implementation of sustainable tourism and is expected to lead towards sustainability by providing outstanding services, infrastructure availability, good human resources, and policy support. Apart from that, it encourages ethical and responsible travel practices by urging visitors to consider their effects on the environment and on local communities.

In the long term, this new sustainale model for halal tourism might even increase the halal travel market's general level of competitiveness within the larger global travel market.

Moreover, green halal tourism stakeholders are in the fortunate position of being able to learn and forge a new path to expand the travel industry that is both sustainable and responsible because it is still a relatively young sub-segment of the global travel market. For instance, the industry especially needs to consider exploiting the role of technology and its potential in developing green halal tourism. Travelers are getting tech-savvy and highly reliant on digital applications by the day. This means that their digital devices are essential before and during their travels. Handy ‘Apps’ like MuslimPro push prayer notifications and Zabihah guides travelers to halal restaurants and markets through their mobile devices, while HalalTrip offers a fully integrated all-in-one Islamic travel app.

ASEAN countries prominently have an edge in the tourism market especially among travelers seeking for nature and culture tourism products. This includes the halal tourism market, of which the region is already reaping the benefits from. Globally, ASEAN is the top ranked Muslim-friendly region according to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2022 alongside the Middle East owing to the fact that these regions are predominantly Muslim majority destinations (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Top Muslim friendly destinations

muslim friendly regions in ASEAN and middle east

As a matter of fact, four ASEAN countries (3 OIC and 1 non-OIC) are ranked in top 20 Muslim destinations in 2022. Malaysia ranked first in the list, Indonesia came second, followed by Singapore (10th) and Brunei (12th). Malaysia has always been at the top ever since the index was launched, whereas Indonesia has previously bagged awards for the World’s Best Halal Tourist Destination (Lombok); the World’s Best Honeymoon Destination (Lombok); and the World’s Best Family Friendly Hotel (Sofyan Hotel Betawi, Jakarta). Singapore remains the only non-OIC country on the list, demonstrating the zero racial limitations in green and halal tourism.

Figure 3: Top non-OIC Muslim friendly destinations

top non-oic destinations for muslims

Meanwhile, Thailand and the Philippines are ranked in the top 20 non-OIC Muslim destinations (Figure 3). This ultimately shows that despite their relatively small Muslim population, these destinations have put in a significant amount of effort to attract and welcome Muslim tourists. Countries wishing to seize these opportunities need to consider setting up a dedicated department or agency that oversees all things halal in order to develop a halal tourism segment that advocates for Muslim-friendly tourism and caters to both Muslims and the non-Muslims. The achievements show that the development of the halal tourism industry continues to flourish and allows ASEAN to position strongly in attracting and tapping into Muslim markets as travel destinations.

Green halal tourism represents a new and innovative approach to sustainable tourism which combines Islamic principles with eco-friendly, ethical, and sustainable travel practices.

It reflects the values of the new tourism landscape and promotes sustainability economically, socially, culturally, spiritually, and environmentally. As this concept continues to grow, it contributes to the promotion of responsible tourism practices that benefit both travelers and the destinations they explore.


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