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Global Economic Impact of Muslim Tourism

Global Economic Impact of Muslim Tourism

The GDP impact of the world’s Muslim tourism sector exceeded US$138 billion in 2015. The industry generated 4.3 million jobs and contributed more than $18 billion in tax revenue.

These are the topline findings of the inaugural Global Economic Impact of Muslim Tourism Report 2015 by Salam Standard, a leading authority on one of the Islamic Economy’s fastest-growing sectors – travel and tourism.

“To put this into perspective, a GDP impact of $138 billion is larger than the entire economy of Morocco or Kuwait,” said the report’s author, Faeez Fadhlillah, Co-Founder and CEO of Salam Standard and sister firm, Tripfez.

“The Muslim travel sector accounts for more than 10% of total global tourism spend and has a significant impact on the economic wealth of many of the world’s leading markets, creating jobs and boosting public finances. Its power and potential should not be ignored.”

The US and the EU are the top beneficiaries of Muslim travel spending, netting nearly $64 billion of inbound expenditure in 2015, or around 44% of the total.

They also collect the most Muslim tourist-related tax – to the tune of $12.5 billion, according to the report, which studied in detail the contribution of the Muslim tourism sector to major economies worldwide.

But when it comes to the biggest spenders, the Middle East leads the pack, accounting for 60% of all outbound Muslim tourism expenditure, worth some $60 billion.

Asia and Europe are the second largest markets in terms of outbound Muslim travel expenditure, each generating around 20% of total spend.

The Middle East nations accrue the largest share of their tourism GDP from Muslim travellers (28%) however, in terms of direct employment, Thailand is the largest beneficiary, with more than a quarter of a million jobs supported by the Muslim travel sector.

When taking into account the additional benefits Muslim travel delivers to economies around the world in terms of retail, transport, hotels, restaurants and cultural venues, the US and Europe benefit from more than half of the total GDP impact, worth $85 billion, or 10% of their overall inbound tourism markets.

More than a million jobs are also generated by the Muslim travel industry in the US and EU, however, Asia benefits the most, with more than 2.3 million people employed in this sector.

The report makes several recommendations based on its findings and encourages governments around the world to embrace the economic prosperity the Muslim travel sector can deliver now and in the future.

“As the fastest-growing segment of the global tourism industry, the Muslim travel market provides a wealth of opportunities for policymakers and businesses in both advanced and emerging economies,” explains Fadhlillah.

“The sector is expected to grow by 50% in volume and 35% in value over the next five years, but its potential is yet to be unlocked.

“We advise governments and tourism entities in key markets worldwide to put strategies in place that will foster the growth of their Muslim travel sectors and drive demand that will benefit their economies immeasurably.”

The report recommends destinations take ‘three basic steps’: understand the needs and preferences of Muslim travelers; provide amenities that cater to those needs; and communicate the availability of Muslim-friendly features as a unique selling point.

“Muslim tourists represent a huge commercial opportunity,” the report concludes.

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