UAE tourists would like to visit Turkey as their next European holiday destination in new research which looked at past and future travel behaviour across the Middle East and Far East.
The Muslim Travel Index Europe 2014, released on Monday, has shown that Turkey is the number one country of choice for tourists in UAE as a future place to visit.
According to a detailed study of UAE residents, Turkey topped the list with 39 per cent of the vote, with England in second place (38 per cent), followed by Spain (37 per cent) and France (36 per cent). Italy also made the top five with 35 per cent of the vote.
The biggest reason tourists said they wanted to travel to Turkey (71 per cent) was to visit the country for the first time and experience what it had to offer. This was followed by 59 per cent wanting to know about its Islamic heritage.
The research found England was the most popular destination previously with 42 per cent having visited the country.
The Index also revealed the importance of adhering to Islam while travelling abroad with a huge 93 per cent of Emiratis saying it was important that the country they were visiting had facilities that catered for a halal lifestyle.
The Muslim Travel Index Europe 2014 looked at the attitudes and behaviour of majority Muslim populations to tourism in the future and their experiences of countries they have already visited in Europe.
The halal tourism sector was worth €103 billion in 2013 representing around 13 per cent of global travel expenditures.
This figure is expected to reach €141 billion by 2020.
Of those surveyed in UAE, 42 per cent had previously visited England, 26 per cent had been to Italy and 24 per cent to Turkey.
Of those who had been to England, 69 per cent said it was because they wanted to go sight-seeing while 57 per cent wanted to come for the cooler climate.
Official data from the UK Government showed that 262,000 visited the UK in 2013 from UAE spending Dh156 a day – the second highest of any country coming to the UK- contributing billions to the economy.
Around 29 per cent of those who had previously visited Europe stayed for less than seven days while a further 24 per cent stayed for 10 days. Of those surveyed 43 per cent travelled to England for a holiday break with family.
Of those Emiratis who have previously visited Europe, 43 per cent preferred to stay at a friend or family member house while 87 per cent travelled in an economy class. Furthermore, the majority of UAE tourists preferred to travel in July and August to Europe. The majority of UAE tourists (54 per cent) book their holiday online.
Delving further into the expenditure of UAE tourists showed they spent most of their money while on holiday in Europe on food and drink and souvenirs with 91 per cent spending around Dh6,000 on each.
A huge 93 per cent said it was important the country of destination provided halal food while 83 per cent said it was important to provide praying facilities.
The Muslim Travel Index Europe 201 was conducted using research from residents from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Malaysian residents.