Islamic Travels and Tours is a boutique agency tailored to attend to the complete needs of the Muslim traveler in South Africa. In addition to organizing shark cage dives, whale watches, and bungee jumps, it will plan honeymoons for Muslim couples, arrange visits to a Muslim-owned predator park in Johannesburg, and schedule tours of South Africa’s first mosque, built in Cape Town in 1794.

It will arrange tours of Soweto and trips on safari, and leave room on its clients’ itineraries for ritual prayer and dinners adhering to religious dietary laws. It will even match clients with local host families who share their religious background, giving tourists a chance, Islamic Travels owner Khalid Vawda says, to solidify their experience of South Africa and “see what life is like [for] an average Muslim working family.”

What you won’t find advertised on Islamic Travels’ website: excursions to vineyards, casinos, and nightclubs—staples of typical South African tour operators, but not activities that many Muslims would care to be associated with.

Vawda, a practicing Muslim from Johannesburg and an intrepid traveler himself, started his business in 2015 after realizing that traditional travel firms were overlooking a big opportunity. “Halal tourism,” as the growing niche is known, is being driven by a rising Muslim middle-class population that is well-educated, with disposable income and access to travel information. An estimated 117 million Muslims traveled internationally in 2015, according to the 2016 MasterCard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index. That number is expected to grow to 168 million by 2020, with travel expenditures exceeding $200 billion.  Read More


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