UAE tourists would like to visit Turkey as their next European holiday destination in new research which looked at past and future travel behaviour across the Middle East and Far East.
According to a detailed study of UAE residents, Turkey topped the list with 39% of the vote with England in second place (38%), followed by Spain (37%) and France (36%). Italy also made the top five with 35% of the vote.
The biggest reason tourists said they wanted to travel to Turkey (71%) was to visit the country for the first time and experience what it had to offer. This was followed by 59% wanting to know about its Islamic heritage. The research found England was the most popular destination previously with 42% having visited the country.
The Index also revealed the importance of adhering to Islam while travelling abroad with a huge 93% of Emiratis saying it was important that the country they were visiting had facilities that catered for a halal lifestyle.
The Muslim Travel Index Europe 2014 looked at the attitudes and behaviour of majority Muslim populations to tourism in the future and their experiences of countries they have already visited in Europe. The full report will be launched next month at the world’s first ever Halal Tourism Conference being held in Spain.
The halal tourism sector was worth €103 billion in 2013 representing around 13% of global travel expenditures. This figure is expected to reach €141 billion by 2020.
“This Index is an excellent indicator of the travel needs of UAE tourists using past and future data and findings,” said Tasneem Mahmood of CM Media, who are organising the world’s first halal tourism conference in Spain in September.
“It is a great detailed analysis of how catering for the needs of UAE tourists will lead to an increased number of visitors to Turkey, England, Spain and all of Europe.
“This research represents great opportunity for tourism boards, tour operators, travel agencies, hotels, restaurants and the entire sector across the world in understanding the needs of UAE tourists and how to address them especially considering how much they love travelling.”
The Muslim Travel Index Europe 2014 gave a deep insight into the behaviour of UAE tourists. Of those surveyed, 42% had previously visited England, 26% had been to Italy and 24% to Turkey.
Of those who had been to England, 69% said it was because they wanted to go sight-seeing while 57% wanted to come for the cooler climate.
Official data from the UK Government showed that 262,000 visited the UK in 2013 from UAE spending 156 AED a day – the second highest of any country coming to the UK- contributing billions to the economy.
Around 29% of those who had previously visited Europe stayed for less than seven days while a further 24% stayed for 10 days. Of those surveyed 43% travelled to England for a holiday break with family.
Of those Emiratis who have previously visited Europe, 43% preferred to stay at a friend or family member house while 87% travelled in an economy class. Furthermore, the majority of UAE tourists preferred to travel in July and August to Europe. The majority of UAE tourists (54%) book their holiday online.
Delving further into the expenditure of UAE tourists showed they spent most of their money while on holiday in Europe on food and drink and souvenirs with 91% spending around 6000 AED on each.
A huge 93% said it was important the country of destination provided halal food while 83% said it was important to provide praying facilities.
The Muslim Travel Index Europe 201 was conducted using research from residents from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Malaysian residents.
The Halal Tourism Conference, which is being held on 22 and 23 September 2014, will bring together the travel industry from around the world to discuss ways of tapping into this niche market.
The event, which is being hosted in Andalucia, Spain, aims to equip delegates with market intelligence, industry forecasts and trends to understand how to market to the lucrative Muslim consumer and benefit commercially.
The two day event hopes to attract tourism boards, tour agencies, tour operators, restaurants, media, hotels and airlines. The event will also feature seminars from industry experts, workshops, networking sessions and an exhibition.