The Concept of Halal Tourism and its Development in Italy

  • 5 min read
  • Mei 06, 2023
halal tourism

Are you a Muslim traveler looking to explore Italy without compromising your religious beliefs? Halal tourism may be the solution you have been seeking. Halal tourism encompasses travel experiences tailored to the needs of Muslim travelers, including halal food, prayer facilities, and lodging that adheres to Islamic guidelines. Italy, a popular tourist destination, has recently started to embrace the concept of halal tourism. However, the country’s competitive capacity in the international halal tourism market is low, and it currently does not feature among the top 10 destinations in the Global Muslim Travel Index. This represents a significant missed opportunity for Italy, as the Muslim travel market is anticipated to consist of 230 million travelers by 2026, with an aggregate expenditure of USD 300 billion. In this blog, we will explore the development of halal tourism in Italy, its challenges, and potential solutions to tap into this rapidly growing market.

Halal Tourism Concept

Halal tourism encompasses endeavors that cater to the necessities of Muslim voyagers by offering amenities and facilities in accordance with Islamic law, including halal sustenance, prayer facilities, and lodging. This form of tourism is gaining traction amongst Muslim tourists who wish to reconcile their religious obligations with their yearning to discover novel locales and cultures. As per the Mastercard-Crescent Rating index, the Muslim travel market is anticipated to encompass 230 million travelers by 2026, with an aggregate expenditure of USD 300 billion. This suggests a considerable potential for expansion in the halal tourism sector, approximated at 10% of the worldwide travel market. This growth is expected to bolster the development of the tourism sector in both Muslim-majority and non-Muslim nations.

The provision of halal tourism services addresses the needs of Muslim travelers while facilitating cultural exchange and comprehension amongst disparate communities. This is particularly pertinent in the current global milieu, which calls for more inclusive and sustainable tourism practices. Additionally, halal tourism can positively influence the economy by generating new employment opportunities and bolstering small and medium-sized enterprises.

A quintessential aspect of halal tourism is the availability of halal food, which denotes nourishment prepared in compliance with Islamic dietary regulations and certified throughout the supply chain. This encompasses meat from animals that are slaughtered in a particular manner and the avoidance of pork and alcohol. Halal tourism also necessitates accommodations devoid of prohibited elements, such as alcohol, and the provision of prayer facilities for Muslim travelers. Furthermore, activities should be congruent with Islamic principles and values, eschewing gambling and nightclubs. Instead, halal tourism activities emphasize cultural and heritage experiences and religious tourism, including visits to historical mosques, Islamic centers, and other religious sites overseas.

Halal tourism characteristics

Undoubtedly, halal tourism represents a crucial niche for both Muslim travelers and the tourism sector. While it enables Muslim travelers to explore new locations without compromising their religious principles, the industry faces the challenge of offering tailored services to this demographic. Non-Islamic countries, in particular, struggle with limited availability of halal services and potential cultural barriers.

Food is a significant concern for halal tourists, often determining their willingness to visit a particular destination. As noted by Henderson (2016), halal certification is vital for food supplies, making the availability of certified halal cuisine a considerable competitive advantage for specific locations. Moreover, when booking accommodations, Muslim tourists consider various factors, including the presence of the Quran in rooms, alcohol-free minibars, television systems not programmed for adult content, cosmetics and toiletries free of food or alcoholic substances, prayer rugs, and compasses pointing towards Mecca (Biancone et al., 2019; Muharam & Asutay, 2019). Additionally, Battour and Ismail (2016) highlight that segregated prayer rooms and gender-divided pools, spas, or beaches might attract Muslim tourists, particularly those with greater purchasing power.

Contemporary research also presents case studies wherein technology enhances halal tourism experiences (Battour & Ismail, 2016). An example is the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s official app specifically designed for Muslim visitors, which facilitates access to Muslim-friendly products, services, and facilities across Thailand (Royal Thai Embassy, 2015). Airports and travel packages represent two further strategic elements to attract halal tourists. As Battour and Ismail (2016) explain, a Muslim-friendly airport with halal food and dedicated prayer rooms can serve as an entry point for promoting a destination as halal. Meanwhile, travel packages marketed in both halal and non-halal countries hold potential for promoting entire regions. The characteristics outlined above are summarized in Table 1.

Halal Tourism in Italy

Italy is a popular tourist destination with a rich cultural heritage, beautiful coastline, and delicious cuisine. Despite being a predominantly Catholic country, Italy is accommodating to Muslim lifestyles and offers halal-friendly holidays. There are hotels that offer halal dining onsite or nearby, and a range of alcohol-free properties across Italy. Muslim families can enjoy a range of activities in Italy, from visiting historical sites and ancient ruins to exploring state-of-the-art museums and art galleries.

However, according to a study by the Management Department of the University of Turin, Italy is missing out on huge revenue opportunities presented by halal tourism. The study warns that Italy has “no overall approach” to create an extensive halal hospitality network, which would entice Muslim travelers to the country.

Italy’s competitive capacity in the international halal tourism market is “so low” that the country does not even appear among the top 10 destinations in the Global Muslim Travel Index, placing well below Germany and France, the European countries that have done the most to promote halal tourism.

Despite this, there are still halal-friendly options for Muslim travelers in Italy. MuslimTravelGirl offers a Muslim-friendly guide to Venice, which is a popular tourist hotspot with almost 30 million visitors.

There are also private villas available for rent in Italy, which offer a more secluded and private experience for Muslim families

In addition, a study presented at the Turin Islamic Economic Forum suggests that Italy should be among the first destinations of Muslim travelers, given its rich cultural heritage and monuments that tell of centuries of encounters and fusion between Western and Muslim cultures.

Halal food services for hotels

Table 2 elucidates the halal culinary offerings in the hotel sector, as showcased by virtual travel agencies. Evidently, 729 hotels are situated in close proximity to halal dining options, while an additional 243 establishments can accommodate halal requirements upon request. Furthermore, 50 hotels proffer select menu items that conform to halal guidelines. A scant 15 hotels maintain comprehensive halal meal options in their repertoire. In specific instances, nearby food and beverage enterprises may supplement the hotel’s halal offerings.

Halal FoodNumber
All halal food15
Some Halal Food50
Halal food on request243
Halal food nearby729

Prevalence of alcohol-free zones

Table 3 elucidates the prevalence of alcohol-free zones within the hotel industry. A significant 728 establishments feature designated non-alcoholic chambers. Moreover, 202 accommodations, encompassing diverse lodging typologies such as villas, pensions, and chalets, abstain from serving alcoholic beverages. A scant 16 hotels have entirely renounced alcohol within their premises. It is noteworthy, however, that despite the absence of alcohol, some establishments may still provide non-halal comestibles, including pork.

Alcohol-free AreasNumber
Alcohol-free property202
Alcohol-free restaurant16
Alcohol-free room728

Distribution of halal concept accommodation

Table 4  elucidates the dispersion of hospitality establishments embracing the halal concept, delineated by type. A preponderance of star-rated hotels encompasses the lion’s share, with 670 facilities (84%) comprising this category. Spanning one to five stars, this segment constitutes a diverse array of halal-oriented accommodations. Subsequently, guesthouses constitute the second-largest cohort, tallying 42 establishments (5%). In third place, a modest 25 apart-hotels (3%) are represented. Ski hotels, exhibiting the sparsest halal adoption, have distinct operational constraints, such as a seasonal schedule, which potentially contribute to this paucity. A lower online registration frequency for non-hotel facilities may account for the diminished prevalence of alternate accommodation types within this analysis.

Property TypeNumber
Guest house42
Apart Hotel25
Country House11
Honeymoon House7
Ski Hotel3

Halal tourism is a rapidly growing industry that caters to the needs of Muslim travelers, providing amenities and facilities that comply with Islamic law. The Mastercard-Crescent Rating index predicts that by 2026, the Muslim travel market will consist of 230 million travelers spending around USD 300 billion, representing a significant potential for growth in the halal tourism sector. 

This form of tourism emphasizes cultural exchange, religious tourism, and heritage experiences, while eschewing activities that contradict Islamic principles, such as gambling and nightclubs. Halal food and lodging that comply with Islamic regulations are essential for Muslim travelers, and technology can enhance their experiences. 

Italy is a popular tourist destination that offers halal-friendly options, but the country’s competitive capacity in the international halal tourism market is low, indicating significant potential for revenue growth. 

The provision of halal tourism services presents opportunities for generating employment and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises. The prevalence of halal concept accommodations and alcohol-free zones varies across the hospitality industry, with star-rated hotels and guesthouses comprising the majority of halal-oriented accommodations.

Source: Gunduz, C., Calandra, D., & Biancone, P. (2023). Halal tourism: a web content analysis in ItalyEuropean Journal of Islamic Finance10(1), 34-43.

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