DAVAO CITY – The director of the Islamic Tourism Centre-Malaysia has urged the Philippines to look into business opportunities from halal tourism within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as the younger generation of Muslims in other countries.

Yuhaini Yusoff, speaking during the opening of the 16th National Convention of the Association of Tourism Operators of the Philippines (ATOP) held in the city over the weekend, said the ASEAN Muslim population alone is about 240 million and more of them are traveling overseas.

“The number of Muslim travelers in on the rise and they are spending more in travel and tourism,” told the ATOP delegation of around 1,164 tourism officers and players.

“Even if you just get 10% of the 240 million Muslim population, that is already 24 million people,” she added.

She said the global population is 1.7 billion with the 57 members states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries at 1.1 billion. In countries where Muslims are minorities, they total about 350 million.

“The new generation of Muslim travelers is highly educated, well-traveled, consisting of second and third generation in Europe, United Kingdom and the United States with high spending power and they are increasingly seeking goods and services with Islamic value,” she said.

In 2014, Ms. Yusoff said, the estimated spending from halal tourism was about $142 billion, and this is expected to reach $233 billion in 2020, excluding the spending on the hajj and umrah, which are pilgrimages to Mecca.

The highest global Muslim tourist spending per capita by country are: Saudi Arabia with $17.8 billion; United Arab Emirates, $12.6 billion; Kuwait, $9.7 billion; Qatar, $9.5 billion; Indonesia, $7.5 billion; and Iran, $7.5 billion.

“Malaysia is globally recognized for five consecutive years as the most Muslim-friendly country, from 2011 to 2015,” Ms. Yusoff said.

The growth of Malaysian Islamic tourism — which is characterized by easily accessible prayer facilities, Muslim-friendly hotels, halal ccisine, mosques that are rich in history, and Islamic festivals and events — is attributed to the various programs implemented by the Malaysian government, including the establishment of the Islamic Tourism Center in 2009 and the development of the Malaysian Islamic Tourism blueprint.