SINGAPORE (AFP) - A new website for Muslim travellers which includes a global directory of halal restaurants and dedicated city guides launched Wednesday in a bid to capitalise on the growing number of Islamic tourists.
Specialist Singapore-based firm Crescentrating said the site, which is called HalalTrip.com, offers a wide range of features for tourists wishing to travel in accordance with the rules of Islam.
"It is the world's first fully-featured travel booking website for Muslim travellers," Crescentrating chief executive Fazal Bahardeen told AFP, adding that the industry had been lacking a dedicated travel booking site catering to the needs of Islamic tourists.
Spending by Muslim travellers is estimated to reach US$200 billion by 2020, up from US$126 billion in 2011, according to the company's chief operating officer Dany Bolduc.
Crescentrating acquired HalalTrip.com from its Austrian owner in June and has re-launched it with new features including booking facilities for nearly 400,000 hotels, as well as airlines and tour packages. The site previously only allowed bookings for 1,000 hotels.
Tourists can now search flights and hotels on the English-language site as a result of partnerships with online reservation firm Booking.com, and travel search engine Wego.com.
It also offers a global directory of halal restaurants, mosques and amenities useful the Muslim tourist.
There are dedicated travel and city guides to places such as Istanbul, Beijing, and Kuala Lumpur, highlighting places of interest for the Islamic visitors.
Other features will be added progressively, including Arabic and other language interfaces, the company said.
Crescentrating already runs a website which rates hotels, restaurants, airports and other establishments using such criteria as having halal restaurants and prayer rooms.
This year, it launched a service that allows Muslim travellers to determine their prayer times and the direction to which they should pray even while they are in mid-flight and across different time zones.