A new trade supplier of halal-friendly travel products says the sector is ready to be embraced by the mainstream travel industry.

Rihaala, which launches its trade booking engine today (August 1), is aimed at agents who want to tap into what its founder  believes is a growing and potentially lucrative sector.

The brand has been established by Watford-based tailor-made operator Serendipity Travel, which was set up in 2012 to provide tailor-made holidays for halal travel clients.

Nabeel Shariff, who previously worked for Sri Lanka Tourism and high street retailer Travelbag, founded Serendipity Travel because he couldn’t find anyone catering for the halal market. He said the Rihaala.com site and trade booking engine were created in response to a changing mindset among Muslim travellers increasingly seeking halal-friendly mainstream holidays.

“Muslim travel is still in the growth phase,” he said. “Ten years ago, halal travel did not exist. People tended to travel to Dubai or Turkey, where they felt comfortable. But there are four million Muslims in the UK and increasingly they have the spending power and are looking for mainstream holiday options.

“In any niche or specialist part of the travel industry, agents can shy away from it because they are not sure about the product and don’t want to risk getting it wrong.

“Rihaala is for all non-specialist agents who have Muslim clients to give them the confidence to treat halal travellers like any other British holidaymakers. From high street independents to homeworkers, agents in the UK have a great opportunity to diversify their travel clientele to increase their business.”

The Rihaala website offers 1,500 halal-friendly hotels in 40 destinations worldwide and a range of tours and excursions. It will pay commission, while agent partners will be offered training and fam trips.

Net rates will also be available for some product. Rihaala will provide some trade support via its contact centre, but expects to mainly deal with agents online where it will provide a selling guide in its B2B portal.

Rihaala is bonded by trade association Abtot and falls under Serendipity’s 1,000-passenger Atol licence. Trade partners will be able to sell single components and package them up under their own Atols.

Do you agree agents are missing out due to a lack of knowledge selling halal travel? Email: editorial@travelweekly.co.uk