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SA to tap into Muslim tourism market

Khoza said many beachfront hotels were fully booked in Durban, on the South Coast and the North Coast.

Khoza said many beachfront hotels were fully booked in Durban, on the South Coast and the North Coast.

Published May 23, 2013

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Durban - With the annual Tourism Indaba trade show in Durban having wrapped up last week, the city is preparing to host a travel conference of a different kind next week.

A first in the country, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be hosting a Halaal Tourism Conference, which will examine the opportunities the Muslim tourist market has to offer, on May 29.

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“Muslims spend an estimated R126-billion a year on travel and tourism. This amount is expected to rise to R192bn or 12 percent of total global tourism spend by 2020,” said conference manager Jane Pillay.

“It is a niche market that has a huge spending power. KwaZulu-Natal is well positioned to attract the Muslim market due to its excellent weather throughout the year and Durban being a Muslim-friendly city.”

Pillay said the conference would help stakeholders adapt their offerings for this segment of the travelling population. She said the availability of halaal food and prayer facilities made the city a destination of choice for Muslim tourists, but there was room for growth.

This growth could be achieved by providing the religious requirements for Muslim travellers and would entail only slight adjustments to hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and the current set-ups of hospitality providers.

The Halaal Tourism Conference would deal with these required changes through panel discussions, while sharing with local businesses the importance and impact of Halaal tourism on the local economy.

“Durban gets a lot of Muslim tourists, with some of our hotels fully booked during school holidays by South African and international Muslims,” she said.

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Pillay said the conference would also provide insight into what strategies the provincial tourism authorities needed to implement to attract Muslim travellers, while highlighting the need for the province to support tour operators who targeted this market.

One of the key speakers at the conference will be Fazal Bahardeen of online Muslim travel guide Crescent Rating, who is to analyse market trends and the process involved in becoming halaal certified.

Pillay said that to attract Muslim travellers, South Africa, and particularly Durban, needed to improve their position as a desirable destination.

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l For more information, call the Durban Chamber at 031 335 1000 - The Mercury

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