Women drive global Muslim travel, prefer family-friendly destinations

Lifestyle and community values are core to Muslim women during travel, according to a report by Mastercard and CrescentRating. Most of them (71%) travel with their families, and therefore prefer family-friendly destinations.

Leisure takes precedence (90%), followed by religious travel (21%) and business (11%). Safety and access to religious amenities are found to be prioritised by the demographic group. Muslim women travellers look to integrate religious amenities into their trips, with 94% of survey respondents reporting halal dining as a travel priority. Accessible religious facilities with female-only prayer rooms (86%) and single-gender spas and beauty salons (79%) also factor highly into their itineraries. Social justice, an important part of their faith, influences their journeys, with 73% seeking eco-friendly travel options abroad.

The study confirms that they "exert considerable influence" in trip planning regardless of their travel party. Women’s disposable income is also on the rise, with most of the population setting off on trips two to three times per year.

Overall, female travellers make up the lion's share of the global Muslim travel market last year, taking up 45% of the total visitor arrivals and spending over US$80 billion on their journeys. about two-thirds of them are aged 40 years of age or younger.

Muslim women travellers also make up 63 million of 140 million total Muslim visitor arrivals in 2018. Over half of them use some form of social media to scope out accommodation, logistics and dining. Some 28% of Muslim women journeys last year were solo travels, indicative of a growing younger demographic willing to experience the world.

Aisha Islam, VP, market product management, Mastercard said: “Muslim women travellers are ready to see the world. This young and driven demographic is ready to engage travel industry providers who welcome them and curate experiences that keep their values and community in the forefront."

A total of 3,308 female respondents participated in the survey of which majority were 25 to 34 years. In terms of the geographical region, most of them were from Asia and the Pacific.

Based on the survey, the top four destinations that are seen to be Muslim women-friendly are Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Indonesia. All of these destinations are countries part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), with many Muslim travel services such as halal food, prayer spaces and recreational spaces with privacy, said the report. Non-OIC destinations that made it to the list include Singapore, which comes in sixth.

Raudha Zaini, head of marketing of CrescentRating and HalalTrip, said that there has been little research done to better understand the fast-emerging segment of Muslim women travel market and its specific challenges. This study therefore, aims to provide the industry with a "clear lens to understand their intrinsic and extrinsic travel motivations".

Based on the data, the study uncovers six facets of the study, namely travel profiles, travel motivations, trip planning patterns, challenges and prejudices, travel experiences sought and use of social media. They form the basis of three key elements identified to drive the passion for travel in Muslim women: explore, energise and empathise.

(Photo courtesy: 123rf)