INTERNATIONAL. Indonesia has joined Malaysia to share the top spot among OIC (Organisation of Islamic Co-operation) destinations in the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2019.

And Singapore retained its lead as the top Muslim-friendly non-OIC destination, followed by Thailand, the UK, Japan and Taiwan.

The report, which includes 130 destinations globally, also reveals that in 2018 there were an estimated 140 million Muslim visitors worldwide – up from 131 million in 2017 – representing 10% of the global travellers.

Muslim visitors globally are forecast to grow to 230 million by 2026.

The Index tracks the health and growth of Muslim-friendly travel destinations in four strategic areas – access, communications, environment and services.

South Korea and the Philippines have entered the top 10 non-OIC destinations, displacing Germany and Australia. Spain has also entered this list, emerging as a key Halal-friendly European destination for Muslim travellers this year.

Malaysia and Indonesia are tied in first place among Muslim-friendly OIC countries. (Click to enlarge).

The Muslim travel market is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world, but it remains relatively untapped. By 2026, the Halal travel sector’s contribution to the global economy is expected to jump 35% to US$300 billion, up from US$220 billion in 2020.

CrescentRating & HalalTrip CEO Fazal Bahardeen said: “As the Muslim travel market continues to grow and evolve we believe this report along with the ‘Halal Travel Frontier 2019’ report released earlier this year, sets the stage for the next phase of development in this unique travel segment – Halal Travel 2.0.

“The report also presents the five ‘Halal Travel Development Goals’ [see below] as well as the updated ‘Muslim Faith Based Services Needs’ to help all stakeholders develop clear plans to grow the market.’’

Spain has entered the top 10 Muslim-friendly non-OIC destinations for the first time. (Click to enlarge).

Mastercard Indonesia, Malaysia & Brunei Division President Safdar Khan said: “Mastercard is committed to working with partners to expand this dynamic travel segment. As more Muslim travellers explore the globe, they will need trusted, safe, and secure digital payments solutions.

“Mastercard is pleased to collaborate with CrescentRating to empower all stakeholders with actionable insights, and to develop specially curated offerings that meet the religious and cultural needs of Muslim travellers.”

The five Halal Travel Development Goals:

  1. Integration, Diversity and Faith: Enable Muslims to be active citizens of the global community while remaining spiritual.
  2. Heritage, Culture and Connection: Connect Muslim travellers to one another, to the local community, and to the heritage and history of their chosen destination.
  3. Education, Insights and Capabilities: Enhance understanding among communities. Increase academic and industry knowledge that can improve the capabilities of stakeholders.
  4. Industry, Innovation and Trade: Create new opportunities to increase commerce through tourism and drive growth across multiple sectors.
  5. Well-Being and Sustainable Tourism: Recognise the responsibilities of stakeholders in the travel sector and the social impact on travellers, the wider community and the environment.

NOTE: The full report is available here.