Everyone has a different agenda when they go on holiday. Some people want to relax and enjoy good food, others want to test the physical limits of their body by doing extreme sports, and others aim to provide a new experience for their children. Muslim travellers would like to do these things within the bounds of their religion. Additionally, Muslim families and people travelling with children predominately will not have the same agenda and attitude as young, single travellers who may engage in behaviour or activities that parents do not want their children or family members witnessing. Increasing in high-tourist traffic areas is also littering, cultural insensitivity and legal issues. The growth and implementation of Halal tourism throughout the world can curb unwanted side effects of tourism and generate beneficial outcomes, including environmental cleanliness and preservation, wholesome and value-oriented experiences and increased positive perception of travellers by local people.
So what is Halal Tourism and how can it bring about all these benefits? Halal Tourism, the fastest growing area of global tourism, is a branch of tourism geared toward Muslims, but one does not have to be Muslim to appreciate or participate in it. This means that restaurants, hotels, activities, social spaces and others are created and maintained with Islamic values and obligations in mind. This includes serving Halal food in restaurants and cafes, providing places for prayer and direction of prayer in hotels, creating family-oriented and gender-separated activities like female only beaches and pools and enforcing strict rules against serving alcohol. For many people around the world gender separation and alcohol restriction sounds like anything but a holiday and there are many places to accommodate their interests. However, there should also be places to accommodate the interests of modest travellers as well.
The environment greatly benefits from Halal tourism, and sustainability becomes attainable in areas that practice Halal tourism. This is because the concept of Halal involves systematically ethical guidelines concerning food and caring for the environment. Observing what many countries do to promote their tourism industry, it does not take long or much effort to notice their engagement in activities that mistreat animals, trees and other natural components of the environment to please the visitors. Such practices are not acceptable under Halal Tourism simply because one of the basic principles in Islam is not to harm or damage any part of the environment including humans, animals and other creatures, and even non-living entities. In fact, part of the Muslims’ role, which is also regarded a branch of worship, is to preserve and maintain the life on earth, as asserted in the Holy Quran in different places.
By taking away certain ‘non-Halal’ options, more tourists would be encouraged to engage in wholesome activities they otherwise would never consider. People then experience the country, the people and the lifestyle in a respectful and new way, as opposed to simply transporting a party scene from home to a different place. Additionally, for those who don’t wish to be in a Halal environment while they travel they have other options but a space is provided for those who do desire this type of environment. Of course, a Halal environment should not be wholly imposed on non-Muslims, but the option would be available for them and that may increase interest and cultural awareness and understanding.
Increased Positive Relationship Between Tourists and Locals
In many countries across the world locals and the local police force can testify that many scuffles with tourists are influenced by intoxication and the resulting bad behaviour. This includes unwanted sexual advances, destruction or defamation of public property and otherwise reckless and inappropriate behaviour. In fact, Business Insider compiled a list of the top countries with notoriously bad tourists—the U.S. came in first. By creating a ‘bad tourist’ black list which prohibits known bad Chinese tourists from travelling abroad, countries like China have started to tackle the problem on their own in an effort to decrease the negative perception of Chinese tourists. Although Halal tourism can’t change people’s habitually bad habits or character it can decrease or eliminate the circumstances that encourage and precipitate bad behavior.
Dealing with rude tourists day in and day out causes high tourist fatigue for local workers which decreases their job satisfaction and affects their job performance and has many implications on the tourism industry and society overall. In Thailand for example, the millions of tourists—who it seems save their worst behaviour for when they are in Thailand— that visit each year have transformed the local attitude into one of severe negativity towards tourists. The poor relationship between locals and tourists make robberies, accidents and death regular occurrences. The British government released that between April 2013-14 there were as many as 362 deaths of British tourists in Thailand. Of course, death and accidents involving tourists is not unique to Thailand and occur all over the world. Implementing Halal environments can help deter the onslaught of tourist fatigue and the subsequent negative consequences that follow. Most people just consider that they can do or act however they want while on holiday as it is ‘their’ holiday. But in reality, this type of understanding is harmful in many ways and rules of travelling should be installed for the benefit of the traveller and the local community.