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'Halal Tourism' a rising trend in Turkey Print

August 24, 2014, Sunday/ 02:44:30/ TODAY'S ZAMAN / ISTANBUL

The number of hotels specifically catering to tourists who lead a pious Islamic lifestyle has grown sharply, according to recent statistics from the Mediterranean Union of Hotel Owners (AKTOB).

The figures indicate that there are currently 75 hotels in Turkey deliberately advertising themselves with descriptors such as ?Islamic hotel,? ?headscarf-friendly,? ?conservative vacation? and ?halal tourism.? Only five such hotels were operating in 2002, according to AKTOB. The province of Yalova and the beach resort town of Alanya each feature nine hotels that can be included in this category, and the bulk of these hotels are located in areas of western Turkey, many of which are regions known to be heavily frequented by tourists, including ?anakkale, Kaş and Kuşadası.

Prices for rooms in the burgeoning hotels range from TL 70 to TL 2,000, while a private villa complete with a swimming pool may cost as much as TL 5,000.

The hotels do not serve alcohol or pork, feature separate swimming pools for men and women and employ workers who dress in accordance with Islamic customs. They do not broadcast television channels with material considered inappropriate to Islamic values, and they have Internet filters. They include prayer rooms and are isolated from loud external noise, and offer salon, spa, massage and other services.

A recent report on the BBC T?rk?e online news portal quoted one tourism manager saying Turkish tourists account for 60 percent of the guests at these ?halal? hotels, while 40 percent of guests are foreign visitors. He said that demand for such services had skyrocketed in Turkey, as domestic and foreign tourists increasingly wish to avoid staying at hotels that serve alcohol and non-halal food and often host a large number of guests who drink alcohol during their stay.

Eyes on $140 billion Halal Tourism market

The recently released Muslim Traveler Index Europe 2014 estimates the size of the global Halal tourism market at TL 300 billion ($137 billion).

Highlighting Turkey as one of the top few destinations for global visitors with sensitivity to halal products, the index said Turkey could attract ?billions of lira? if the country manages to attract ?halal tourists? at a desired level.

The halal tourism sector was worth 103 billion euros in 2013, representing around 13 percent of global travel expenditures. This figure is expected to reach 141 billion euros by 2020, according to Muslim Traveler Index Europe 2014.

?Turkey has emerged as a top European destination which Muslims from the Middle East and Far East would like to visit as their next holiday which could be worth billions to the economy,? Muslim Traveler Index Europe 2014 said.
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