You guessed it. The Muslim travel market accounted for $145 billion of total international tourism spend in 2015, with the United States receiving a 24 percent share—or almost $35 billion—according to The Economic Impact of Muslim Tourism on the United States 2015 -2016 research paper.
“The United States benefits more from Muslim tourism than any other economy in the world in terms of direct GDP impact,” says Faeez Fadhillah, the co-founder and CEO of Salam Standard, which produced the paper. Launched in October 2015 from its offices near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Salam Standard is an online reference tool for Muslim travelers seeking accommodation that meets their faith-based needs–provisions such as prayer mats, halal food and the removal of alcohol from the hotel mini bar, for example. (Earlier this year Fadhillah was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the “30 under 30” in Asia’s Retail & E-commerce sector.)
Previously, in 2013, Fadhillah and his partner, Juergen Gallistl, started Tripfez, which offers Muslim-friendly tour packages and advice about halal food, as well as a site that compares prices and features for 650,000 properties in some 83,000 destinations
With such numbers, Fadhillah says, the U.S. should therefore be looking for ways to boost its halal-friendly tourism offering and marketing it digitally to the fast-growing Muslim travel community, the research paper suggests in its executive summary.
Salam Standard’s executive summary of the impact of Muslim tourism on the US economy is one facet of a major Global Economic Impact of Muslim Tourism research paper. The full report, which is scheduled for release before the end of 2016, will provide a true global perspective of the growing importance of the Muslim travel sector.
Two key points raised by the paper are as follows:
—First, while the unique faith-based needs of Muslim travelers can vary according to country of origin, universal requirements include the availability of halal-certified food, the observance of prayer times and the absence of alcohol.
—Second, the U.S. should also make information on its Muslim travel facilities and services more accessible to raise its profile as a halal-friendly destination. “Creating online resources, from websites and apps to digital marketing campaigns, is the way forward,” suggests Fadhlillah.
Fadhillah’s movement to serve the Muslim travel sector with innovative online resources–he calls it “Taqwa Tech”—has attracted attention from major media outlets including the BBC and CNBC, both of which are currently filming documentaries about his business. For more information, visit salamstandard.org.