Towards $3trn: Halal tourism by the numbers

Cape Town and the Western Cape want to specialise in attracting a tourist market expected to have buying power worth $3trn by the year 2021. The city and the province held the inaugural "Africa Halal Week" in Cape Town on Monday.

The one-week summit, held in partnership with the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (Wesgro) sought to develop ideas on how Cape Town and the Western Cape could become specialists in providing Muslim-friendly tourism solutions.

The region wants to use its experience as the first place in Africa to certify halal products to hone in on servicing Muslim tourists with products and services including halal food, Muslim-friendly entertainment, clothing, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Here are some quick figures to reflect how large the Muslim tourist market is poised to become, and why Cape Town wants to get into the game ahead of time.


The estimated global Muslim population currently stands at 1.6bn. Up to 60% of the global Muslim population is under the age of 30. Last year the Pew Research Centre famously released a report which said Islam would overtake Christianity as the largest faith on earth by 2070.


In 2017 the direct contribution of travel and tourism to SA's GDP stood at about R136.1bn (2.9% of GDP), according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. 


The total spend globally on halal-relevant imports currently stands at $250bn.


The Islamic economy's overall size has grown from $1.9trn in 2015 and is expected to grow to $3trn in 2021.

Halal has seen more discerning spending by Muslim consumers, not only on food, but on products including pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.


The Western Cape Province currently accounts for 0.3% of the global halal market. This relates to money that tourists and consumers spend on various products that are consisted with their prescribed religious requirements.


Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said Muslim millennial tourists presented a $100bn opportunity over the next 15 years the province, which could be higher if Cape Town’s reputation as an investment tourism destination were taken into account.


The year 2017 posted healthy tourism figures from the Middle East to South Africa. Cape Town was a net beneficiary, as 81 834 passengers travelled from the UAE to Cape Town. Turkey had 9 620 passengers travelling to Cape Town and Doha had 8 542 passengers travelling to Cape Town in the same year.

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