Denmark snubs bustling halal tourism industry

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Denmark snubs bustling halal tourism industry
Photos: AFP

Denmark is ranked below many of its European counterparts when it comes to offering Muslim-friendly travel services and accommodation, 2018’s Global Muslim Travel Index finds.


In the Netherlands, Muslim tourists can find their way to their nearest mosque by using a tailor-made halal app.

In Germany and Switzerland, hotel rooms are equipped with a Quran and a compass so that Muslim guests know in what direction they should pray towards Mecca.

Such Muslim-friendly considerations remain a rarity in Denmark and represent a missed opportunity according to the companies behind the study, Mastercard and Crescentrating, who reported Muslim tourism continues to thrive, reaching 131 million travellers in 2017.

Of the 130 countries put under the spyglass for 2018’s Global Muslim Travel Index, Denmark came in at a modest 84th place. 

Unsurprisingly other Muslim countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Qatar came on top of the list, but a number of European countries including Sweden, Norway and Germany scored higher for halal hospitality.

That represents a drop for Denmark on 2016’s ranking, when they came in 72nd place ahead of Nordic neighbours Sweden (ranked 75), Norway (77) and Finland (97).

“The country’s halal slaughter ban is what makes it difficult to be a Muslim guest in Denmark,” Mehmet Taran, director of Borealis Destination Management (a company organizing Muslim group travel in Scandinavia.

"They can always get a shawarma, but it's hard to find restaurants, especially ones that aren’t expensive and are serving halal meat. 

“You need to know who to ask.”

If Denmark’s hospitality industry started to make concessions for Muslim guests, data suggests they have a lot to gain financially. 

In 2017, the number of global Muslim holidaymakers grew by 10 million and it’s estimated to reach 156 million by 2020, representing 10 percent of the travel segment.

Many of them young, well-educated and affluent. In fact, the global halal tourism industry is currently worth $220 billion, DKK1.4 trillion. 

“The fast growing Muslim travel segment is an opportunity in plain sight but in order to benefit from it, it is crucial to understand the needs and preferences of Muslim travelers and how to adapt and tailor products and services for them“ Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip Safdar is quoted as saying in the study.

VisitDenmark CEO Flemming Bruhn told Danish news agency Ritzau that the public tourism body is working in particular to attract tourists from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland, Italy, Great Britain and the United States.

"We have limited resources, and we use them elsewhere, for example in southern Germany, where Denmark is still unknown to many. 

"But it is clear that we are also watching new countries, such as Indonesia, which has a large Muslim population.”

According to Danish trade organization Horesta, there are no hotels in Denmark with Muslim prayer rooms or Qurans in hotel rooms. 

“This is because there are relatively few guests from Muslim countries”, Horesta member Nadeem Wasi told Ritzau.

“I'm sure they’ll start coming. It's only a matter of demand.”



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