There's A Meeting for That

The World of Halal

As this meeting proves, there's a lot more to halal tourism than the food.

Illustration by Carmen Segovia
Illustration by Carmen Segovia.

Almost everyone knows the Arabic term halal — which roughly translates as “allowed” or “permissible” — but you might be surprised to learn that the Shari’ah principle applies not just to food and drink, but to many other aspects of travel. Some common halal tourism considerations include the announcement of prayer times; gender-segregated beach, spa, and pool facilities; and alcohol- and pork-free menus.

The first International Halal Tourism Conference (HTC), held in Granada, Spain, in 2014, sought to educate the travel and hospitality industries about the unique requirements of Muslim travelers. “We want to bring the whole world together through halal tourism,” Bilal Domah, HTC’s CEO, told journalists at this year’s conference, which was held in Konya, a city in Turkey’s Anatolia region that was the adopted home of the Sufi poet Rumi. HTC’s 500-some delegates included investors, tour operators, travel agents, and representatives from the airline, hotel, food, airline, and travel-retail sectors.

GIVE IT A WHIRLThe setting for HTC 2016 couldn’t have been more ideal. Konya’s grand and gorgeous Mevlâna Cultural Center was purpose-built to host not only meetings and cultural events but also the Şeb-i Aruz, a whirling-dervish ceremony held each December to commemorate Rumi’s death.

WANDERLUSTMore than 30 countries were represented in the exhibit hall — not surprising when you take into account the growing market for halal tourism. The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2015/16, prepared by Thomson Reuters, estimates that the value of the Islamic tourism market will reach $181 billion by 2018.

PEACE, LOVE, AND UNDERSTANDING Mahir Ünal, Turkey’s minister of culture and tourism, discussed how the concept of halal tourism fits into the broader spectrum of cultural sensitivity. “It is actually more than a tourism phenomenon exclusively catering to members of a certain faith,” Ünal said, “and its broader message is that tourism, with its embracing spirit, should respect tourists’ sensitivities, faiths, and preferences.”

2nd International Halal Tourism Conference
May 3–5, 2016
Mevlâna Cultural Center
Konya, Turkey

On the Menu

› ‘Expanding and Growing Your Business Through Halal Compliance’
› ‘Islamophobia’
› ‘Global Risks Analysis for the Future of Halal Tourism’
› ‘When Halal Tourism Meets Islamic Finance’

Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone is digital editor of Convene.