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Muslim millennial tourists flock to Japan

A new report by Mastercard and HalalTrip has identified the most popular tourist destinations for Muslim millennials. The top two destinations were fairly expected; Malaysia and Indonesia, respectively, both of which have a large population of millennial Muslim travellers. Japan came in third, and while on the surface that might sound surprising, it actually makes a lot of sense.

One of the key learnings to be taken from “Generation M” is that we need to let go of stereotypes, because there is actually no such thing as a “typical” Muslim consumer — young Muslims want to be the heroes of their own stories and have their own identities. And this translates to their travel preferences.

According to Nisha Abu Bakar, founder of Elevated, they are keen to find “new emerging destinations that are authentic, as they no longer want what has been tried and tested.” In that regard, they are like any other millennial traveller, keen for new sights, tastes and sounds. Where they differ is that when Muslim millennials embark on their adventures, it is important to them that they take their faith with them.

It follows, then, that destinations which cater to the specific wants and needs of Muslim tourists, either through a conscious effort or a pre-existing infrastructure, are already reaping the rewards. So Japan is a logical destination, with its wide offering of halal food options.

“Soft infrastructure is very important,” says Akashah Q, Executive Director at Ogilvy & Mather’s Muslim consumer consultancy, OgilvyNoor. “Sensitivity needs to go up… 60 per cent of Muslim millennials know that global brands aren’t talking to them. But if they do, they will gain a loyal following.”

It is estimated that Muslim millennial travel spend will surpass $100 billion by 2025, while the overall Muslim travel market is expected to be worth $300 billion by the following year.

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