The rise of a less bias interpretation and study of the history of Al Andalus in the last 30 years has brought many historians to portray the Islamic past of Spain in a different light. This new approach has spread and the history of Al Andalus its nowadays studied in a broader and more extended way. This and the appointment by Unesco of the Alhambra Palace and Mosque of Cordoba among other Muslim sites, as World Heritage sites in 1984 sparked the beginning of making the Islamic heritage and patrimony of Spain, a growing tourist attraction.
However its was only a bit more than a couple of decades ago that Spain begun to look at the Muslim and halal tourism with good eyes, since before that there was no data showing the growth and demand from these niche market.
The significant growth of South East Asian travelers coming to Spain, given the favorable visa conditions specially for Malaysian, alongside the economical favorable conditions that allows these public to travel to our country, seeking to know more about the Spanish culture and specially the fascinating legacy of Islamic Spain, Al Andalus. Its becoming a very interesting kind of travelers since they mostly travel during the lower seasons, they are appreciative of the Spanish culture and the local goods, creating a very positive impact on the tourist economy.
Moreover the new trend that combines the three countries, Spain, Portugal and Morocco its creating a cultural link that allows us to travel chronologically in time to revisit the past of Islam in the golden age, and how it travelled back and forth, in its artistic expression through architecture and its designs.
The increasing demand of Muslim travelers wishing to visit Spain, Portugal and Morocco in a halal and Muslim friendly way its slowly bringing some awareness amongst the service providers. However we shouldn’t forget when visiting specially Spain and Portugal that they are not Muslim countries therefore finding prayer places in every city and halal food its always a challenge. If the Musilim travelers wishing to visit and tour this countries want to do so in a comfortable and relaxed manner its highly advisable that they do so with a local Muslim tour operator.
It is also highly important that they make sure they book and liase with fully licensed and registered local travel and tour operators and travel agencies, with the rise of these new market there are many pirate and non legit agencies and individuals taking advantage of the Muslim tourist just because they call themselves Muslim, they travel without being properly insured and agencies that operate in a scruffy manner. Be aware of these unpleasant options, and request proof travel agency registry.
Visiting Spain, Portugal and/or Morocco with a local Muslim Tour Operator such as Visit Al Andalus Tours or Omeya Tours among others, its an ideal way to explore how people from other countries life and experience Islam. One very unique and interesting aspect of the two above mentioned agencies is that they are founded by second generation of Spanish Muslims, their fathers became Muslim in the 80`s, their grandparents are Spanish and their parents Muslim reverts (Mualaf). This added value makes the traveling experience with them one of discovery and enlightenment.