Islamic Tourism: Thailand Needs Strategy to Capture Muslim Travellers
ISLAMIC TRAVELLERS - MARKET POTENTIAL
Islamic population or so-called Muslims is expected to reach 28.3% of 7 billion people, or 2 billion people of the world population in 2014. The number of Muslims is also expected to increase to be about 30% of the world’s total population by 2020.
The rise of Muslims is not only by population but also their well being such as purchasing power, standard of living, educational level, etc. and thus their life style are starting to change.
The purchase behaviours among Muslims are moving toward an increasing demand on quality-oriented products and/or services. For example, in Indonesia, out of 10% or 20-30 million of Indonesian are middle-upper income class, who prefer to consume products produced from Thailand or Japan despite, its more expensive or double in price when compared to Chinese products (such as motorbike, Halal-food-products). The shift of their economic power has a significant impact to the world of tourism.
Muslim travellers spent about $126 billion in the last two years; their expenditure is forecasted to reach US$192 million by the year 2020, increased by 4 % annually. Favourite destinations are mainly Islamic countries including Egypt, Malaysia, and Turkey.
STRATEGY TO ATTRACT ISLAMIC TOURISTS
For non-Islamic countries, the rise of Muslim has also captured their attentions. The famous tourist destination such as Australia, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines are actively launching campaigns to attract Muslim travellers. Especially for healthcare sector, that’s heavily promoting medical tourism as the main proposition to serve this segment. For example, Thailand has positioned themselves as the value of money destination for medical check-up and leisure activities while, the Malaysian government aim to be medical hub for Islamic countries targeting, patients from Asia and other regions. Singapore, is cooperating with the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Institute to promote the medical hub for Islamic patients, targeting mainly Indonesian patients.
INDONESIA MUSLIM TRAVELLERS
With the strong economic growth in Indonesian, forecasted to increase by 6% per annum, we expect to see more Indonesian travelling aboard, particularly for the destination within Asia. BMI forecasted, the Indonesian outbound to increase to be about 13.08 million in 2017 increase from 9.15 million in 2013.
The main growth driver is an increase in competition among airline businesses especially the low cost airlines that are growing through route expansion, flight frequency, and also offering attractive price and promotion. The top 10 destinations among the Indonesian are Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Macau, Taiwan, Australia, and South Korea.
THAILAND NEEDS STRATEGY TO CAPTURE ISLAMIC TRAVELLERS
For Thailand, the number of travellers from Muslim countries (Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan) are estimated to be about 2.8 million travellers in 2013, grew by 19% from the previous year. Specifically for the gulf countries, there are over 600,000 travellers visit Thailand in 2013, grew by 4% from last year.
Thailand sets the positioning for being the value of money destination and now currently confronts several challenges to capture the growing market for Muslims travellers either from Indonesian or Middle-East countries,
This is mainly due to the long-term political unrest and lack of strategy to develop facilities and marketing to attract Muslim travellers.
As a non-Islamic country, Thailand has to actively educate service providers in the tourism industries (such as hospital, hotel, restaurant, spa, tourist attractions and etc) to understand Islamic cultures.
Basic facilitates that are required for Muslim travellers should be developed. For example, the male-female zones, Muslim Prayer Room, tour guides for Islamic traveller and halal food.