Travel & Tourism for British Muslims, 2023 findings

Travel and tourism is blossoming amongst the 3.9m British Muslim population over the last few years, driven by a desire for cultural immersion, leisurely escapism, and spiritual journeys.

With modern Muslims demanding more to enrich their lifestyle experiences, our rich study reflects their needs and demands, from destination choice, activities, and everything in between. Whilst brands like Emirates Airlines and Booking.com have engaged during key Muslim moments, the British Muslim population demand more attention throughout the marketing calendar.

This Travel & Tourism study is the latest instalment of our cultural insights research we ran with over 1000 British Muslims across the UK to uncover their motivations, behaviours and attitudes towards different lifestyle areas and opportunities for brands to engage with them.

To have a chat about our complete study and how your brand can play a part, feel free to get in touch at contact@mudorange.com

The British Muslim Backdrop

British Muslims make up 6.5% of the UK population. To put that into context, that’s bigger than the population of Wales. More than half of all British Muslims are Gen Z and Millennial who demand brands to cater to their dynamic and modern lifestyles instead of the stereotypical stuff they’re all so used to seeing. 

The latest census data show transformative social shifts, with 1/3 of all British Muslims attaining a university degree and 38% of all of those working are in a white-collar profession. British Muslims are an economically active population that largely go unnoticed during marketing and commercial moments. And as their demand goes unmet, they’re taking it into their own hands and pioneering new industries themselves to fill the gap.  This is not a niche market but a significant, growing segment of the population. 1 in 10 Gen Zs in the UK are practising Muslims, so the commercial significance of British Muslims is speeding up. Brands need to start building insightful strategies that connect with them.

When it comes to travel and tourism, the growing spending power and appetite for new experiences is seen by the rapid increase in holiday making and adventure seeking. Here are the first five insights from our travel and tourism study.

5 travel and tourism insights

1. Halal Holidays

The UAE and Turkey top the travel list for British Muslims, offering halal-friendly environments and rich cultural experiences. And it’s no surprise.

As Muslim majority countries, food is Halal and the culture accommodates Muslim needs. Meaning British Muslims can freely enjoy all the food, activities, experiences and the history.

“Every year we head off to Dubai during Christmas. I’m visibly Muslims so I just know me and the family will be safe and everything we need is at our fingertips…”. Husna 38, Birmingham.

More often than not, British Muslim holiday makers are left to freestyle and curate their holiday itineraries. So Muslim owned travel companies have started to pop up to fill the gap, from HalalBooking to HalalTrip, covering everything from family holidays to honeymoons. But there’s so much more brands can do to engage this demand and enhance the existing experience. Whether that’s a brand like Expedia creating Muslim friendly packages or British Airways directly engaging Muslims in their communications.

2. Need for holiday inspo

44% of all British Muslims would travel to a completely new country if they had information or guidance.

From halal dining, Muslim-friendly activities, to knowing about praying facilities – the unknown element of venturing into the uncharted is intimidating. So the majority rely on experiences shared by friends, family, and recently the growing trend of social media influencers sharing their “Muslim friendliness ratings''

“When we’re looking at holiday destinations, I search what other Muslims have said on TikTok. I need to make sure I don’t waste money on a horrible experience”. Inaya 25, Luton.

Solo travelling is the lowest amongst British Muslims, opting for tour groups like The Muslim Women’s Travel Group or sticking with the familiar. Brands like TUI, Jet2 and Virgin Holidays have a huge opportunity to take care of the faff British Muslims face, curating and communicating offerings to boost confidence and inspire diverse experiences.

3. Gen Z adrenaline seekers

1 in 3 Muslim Gen Zs plan outdoorsy activities when going abroad, from skydives, zip lines, theme parks to water sports.

For them, travelling is all about maximising the experience and creating unforgettable moments. What better high is there than an adrenaline fuelled one?

“Last year me and my cousins went to Antalya to tick off scuba diving from the bucket list. It definitely lived up to the expectations”. Ibrahim 21, London.

Activity booking platforms like Viator can engage energised British Muslims looking for halal fun. From creative campaigns that speak to and represent these adrenaline seekers, to curating content that inspires the next trip. The current perception of Muslims is that they’re reserved and unadventurous, completely missing the opportunity to engage the energised and fun population.

4. Islamic trips remain a staple

Islamic history and religious experiences account for 1 in 6 British Muslim trips every year. 8% of all trips are for Hajj & Umrah (Pilgrimage) in Saudi Arabia whilst the rest is to explore Islamic heritage in places like Turkey, Spain to Bosnia.

“We’re currently saving up for Hajj to make the dream come true. It’s going to cost us about £30k for the family so we’re hoping to go next year”. Jemimah, 44, Bristol.

For Muslims, these trips are more than a “holiday”. It’s a duty and an honour to make this journey so the mindset and willingness is unparalleled. Whilst award-winning tour groups exist to organise these trips - airlines, airports and hotel chains could do so much more to make these experiences more seamless, comfortable, easy, and graceful. Whether that’s Heathrow airport providing changing facilities for transiting passengers, to airlines catering to needs inflight or during layovers.

5. Staycations on the rise 

1 in 4 British Muslims are considering a British staycation over the next year, with the interest growing every single year.

The growth in household disposable income and increasing exposure of the rich, diverse British landscapes and history on social platforms like TikTok. It has created a trend for Muslim family getaways in places like Bath, Edinburgh, Lake District and the Cotswold.

“I booked a beautiful cottage in Bath for about 20 people from my extended family for a trip last Summer. It was amazing and the best bit was we fit it into a weekend.” Khadija, 28, London.

There's a huge opportunity for local Tourism boards to engage British Muslims in the amazing experiences and activities the places have to offer that’s suitable for Muslim lifestyle choices and preferences.

This summary article introduces the first five insights of our study on British Muslims’ motivations, behaviours and attitudes within travel and tourism.

Our complete study provides a cross demographic analysis into all of our findings: from consumer mindset, motivations and decision-making, to their discovery process, obstacles and needs.

To have a chat about our complete study and what it means for your brand, feel free to get in touch at contact@mudorange.com.

Arif Miah, Strategy Director, mud orange.