VIETNAMESE inbound tour operators have identified Muslim tourism as an emerging niche segment, especially with the rising spending power of Muslim travellers in South-east Asia and across the globe.
Direct air links recently established by Middle Eastern carriers as well as Turkish Airlines, in addition to Vietnam Airlines’ four-times-weekly Jakarta-Ho Chi Minh City flights since December 2012, have made it easier for Vietnam to court Muslim travellers from both longhaul and regional markets.
The Gulf carriers’ foray into Vietnam has enabled Lac Hong Voyages to pursue the high-yield market from the Middle East, which recorded 18-20 per cent growth last year, shared the company’s executive director, Jonathan Tran Vinh Loc.
“We’re also seeing growth in Muslim arrivals from Indonesia and Malaysia, and to a certain extent from Brunei too. We have recorded a strong volume growth of 20 per cent from Indonesia from 2012 to 2013, due to the direct Jakarta link by Vietnam Airlines,” he added.
“The Muslim market from Indonesia and Malaysia is particularly good; it has grown 25 per cent last year in comparison with 2012,” said Pham Ha, founder and CEO of Luxury Travel Vietnam, which revamped its Muslim holiday website late last year. “We expect to host 1,000 to 1,200 Muslim travellers in 2014.”
He added: “(This market) is not complicated. We just need to provide what Muslims would need when travelling, such as hotels that indicate qibla (the direction a Muslim should face when praying), a prayer mat, halal food, a toilet with washing facilities and a tour that allows for daily prayers.”
For Peter Pham Tien Dung, director of Goldentour & Convention, whose Muslim bookings in South-east Asia usually hail from Indonesia, Malaysia and Phuket, the market has grown by 10 per cent last year.
He commented: “In 2010, we received around 50 Muslim groups from Malaysia and Indonesia, but last year the demand rose to 60 Muslim groups and 30 FIT packages from these two countries. Muslim FIT numbers from Malaysia in particularly are growing fast. Last year the figure rose from 20 bookings in 2010 to around 60.”
Read the full story in TTG Official Show Daily – ATF 2014