Kuala Lumpur, 14 April 2018 – Malaysia has upheld its position as the number one destination in the global Muslim travel market as rivals are looking to close the gap fast, according to the leading annual research on the sector.

The Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018, which covers 130 destinations, saw Malaysia retain the premier spot for the eight consecutive year while Indonesia built on its year-on-year growth by moving up to joint second with the United Arab Emirates in the overall rankings.

The Index also reveals that a number of non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations in Asia moved up the rankings – a result of their concerted effort to adapt their services to cater to and attract the Muslim travel market.

Singapore retained its pole position for the non-OIC destination markets, ahead of Thailand and the United Kingdom while Japan and Taiwan surged into the top five for the first time since the GMTI was released.

The GMTI 2018 confirmed the Muslim travel market is on course to continue its fast-paced growth to reach US$220 billion in 2020. It is expected to grow a further US$80 billion to hit US$300 billion by 2026.

In 2017, there were an estimated 131 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally – up from 121 million in 2016 – and this is forecasted to grow to 156 million visitors by 2020 representing 10 percent of the travel segment.

“We are now starting to see the impact of investment and commitment by destinations across the world into the Muslim travel market which is reaping rewards including a real shift in the rankings. The concerted efforts of destinations such as Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan using data and insights from the previous GMTI reports have to be commended as they are now closing the gap,” said Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip.

“This year we have revamped the Index criteria to better reflect the growth strategies implemented by destinations to welcome the Muslim travelers resulting in positive movement across the Index. We have also released the ‘CrescentRating Growth & Innovation Model’ to help destinations practically use this report to strategize growth and innovation for this fast paced travel segment,” added Mr. Bahardeen.

Malaysia scored an Index score of 80.6, followed by UAE and Indonesia at 72.8. In comparison, Singapore which was the highest scoring non-OIC destination, scored 66.2. Taiwan and Japan have continued to improve their overall ranking with the average GMTI scores by region contributing to Asia as the leading region in the world for attracting Muslim visitors followed by Europe.

“It has been a pleasure to work with CrescentRating in providing in-depth insights on the Muslim travel market for related stakeholders in the tourism industry. Many already successful destinations around the world are looking to diversify their visitor base to maintain tourist growth rates in today’s increasingly competitive travel market. The fast growing Muslim travel segment is an opportunity in plain sight but in order to benefit from it, it is crucial to understand the needs and preferences of Muslim travelers and how to adapt and tailor products and services for them. We believe that the GMTI provides real value to businesses and governments looking to tap into this important and growing market segment and hope that this effort will continue to drive Halal tourism,” said Safdar Khan, Division President Indonesia, Malaysia & Brunei, Mastercard.

It is estimated the ASEAN region will welcome over 18 million Muslim visitor arrivals by 2020, representing close to 15% of the visitor arrivals to the region.

“Based on the index, Malaysia continues to reinforce its status as the leading halal destination in the world. This is reflective based on numerous initiatives taken by industry players to integrate more Muslim-friendly services and facilities as part of Malaysia’s travel and tourism offerings. As the size of the Muslim travel market evolves upward, so does the economic potential. Malaysian businesses will need to better understand and analyse the demand as well as develop new propositions in order to stay ahead of the curve,” Safdar Khan added.

Some of these initiatives include the establishment of the Islamic Tourism Centre to facilitate market intelligence, tourism policy development and capacity-building services[1] and an upcoming framework under the Halal Industry Master Plan 2.0 to address industry developments[2].

The GMTI is now the premier insights-driven data helping destinations, travel services and investors track the health and growth of this travel segment while benchmarking their individual progress in reaching out to the Muslim traveler.

All 130 destinations in the GMTI2018 have been scored against a backdrop of criteria with some new metrics added for this year’s research including the CrescentRating Growth-Innovation Model.


[1] Islamic Tourism Centre. About Islamic Tourism Centre. Available at: http://www.itc.gov.my/corporate/

[2] Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Portal. Malaysia Halal Council to launch framework by year-end. Available at: http://kpdnkk.bernama.com/newsEn.php?id=1368194

Key metric criteria included access which includes infrastructure; communications and looking at how destinations market themselves to a target audience; environment and services. Each criterion is then weighted to make up the overall index score.

Top 10 OIC Destinations

RANK GMTI 2018 RANK DESTINATION SCORE
1 1 Malaysia 80.6
2 2 United Arab Emirates 72.8
2 2 Indonesia 72.8
4 4 Turkey 69.1
5 5 Saudi Arabia 68.7
7 7 Qatar 66.2
6 8 Bahrain 65.9
8 9 Oman 65.1
9 10 Morocco 61.7
10 11 Kuwait 60.5

 

Top 10 Non-OIC Destinations

RANK GMTI 2018 RANK DESTINATION SCORE
1 6 Singapore 66.2
2 18 Thailand 56.1
3 19 United Kingdom 53.8
4 24 Japan 51.4
5 27 Taiwan 49.6
5 27 Hong Kong 49.6
7 32 South Africa 47.7
8 35 Germany 45.7
9 36 France 45.2
10 37 Australia 44.7

The full report is available at: https://www.crescentrating.com/halal-muslim-travel-market-reports.html.

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