Cape Town, like many African cities has a long history of Islam, which has influenced the local culture to some extent.
Africa was the first continent into which Islam spread from Asia in the early 7th Century. In 2002 Muslims constituted 48% of the population of Africa. A majority of Muslims can be found in North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Swahili Coast, and much of West Africa. A number of them can also be found in South Africa.
South Africa is a top tourist destination in the continent, bringing in 1.52 million tourists in 2016. Now, Cape Town is exploring untapped market which is appealing to the Muslim travelers.
South Africa is rated 4th most popular non-Islamic destinations for Muslim tourists, according to Crescent Rating.
Speaking to CNN’s Market Place Africa, Enver Duminy –CEO Cape Town Tourism said that although traditionally Cape Town was perceived a European city with a bit of Africanism to it, the narrative is now changing to accommodate the history of many Muslims living in the city.
“We need to understand the market first of all- understand what its wants and needs are, then make sure we deliver that in a more professional way, and also in a more respectful way, by firstly understanding the culture,” he adds.
Hilton Cape Town City Center is one destination that has diversified its services to meet the expectations of the Muslim traveler.
In addition to availing prayer mats and Holy Koran upon request, the rooms have Qibla- which indicates the direction of the Holy Mecca. The bathrooms are also specially designed to accommodate the needs of the visitors.
When it comes to meals and drinks, Pork and alcoholic drinks are not be prepared or served at Halal-qualified hotels.
The city also organizes trips to South Africa’s first mosque, built in Cape Town in 1794. A number of travel agencies such as Islamic Travels and Tours have tailored destinations in Cape Town for Muslim visitors. The visits can range from honeymoons, to whale watches, shark cage dives, and bungee jumps.
Image: EPA/Hotli Simanjuntak