GDP impact of Muslim travel in Asia to hit US$33 billion

GDP impact of Muslim travel in Asia to hit US$33 billion

Faeez Fadhlillah

KUCHING: The gross domestic product (GDP) impact of Muslim travel in Asia is forecast to hit US$33 billion by 2020, up 27 per cent from US$26.2 billion in 2017, according to new research unveiled this week.

The region is set grow its market share of global Muslim travel spend to 22 per cent or US$34 billion by the end of the decade, with non-Muslim destinations including China, Thailand and Singapore claiming a large percentage of this inbound expenditure, the ‘Global Economic Impact of Muslim Tourism and Future Growth Projection: 2017-2020’ report by Salam Standard reveals.

At the same time, Asia will directly employ 1.2 million in the Muslim travel industry by 2020, more than half the 2.3 million expected to be employed globally by that date, with 700,000 of those jobs in Southeast Asia, while the region’s total direct and indirect employment will reach 2.9 million.

Asia is also starting to generate significant outbound Muslim travel expenditure, which reached US$21 billion in 2017, or 21 per cent of the global share, and is forecast to hit the US$29.6 billion mark by 2020.

Muslim travellers from Malaysia, Indonesia and China will lead the way, according to Salam Standard, contributing 17 per cent of the total global outbound spend by 2020 and outpacing European countries included in the study, who will contribute just 15 per cent between them.

In addition, the total tax impact of global Muslim travel is set to grow from US$19.5 billion in 2017 to US$24 billion by 2020, and China and Thailand are expected to be Asia’s top beneficiaries, accruing US$1.1 billion and US$1 billion respectively.

“Asia is one of the top regions driving the growth of the global Muslim travel market, fuelled by a young and aspirational population and an increasingly-affluent middle class who are hungry to travel the world in a faith-compatible way, whether for business or leisure,” said Faeez Fadhlillah, co-founder and chief executive officer of Salam Standard and Muslim-friendly hotel booking portal, Tripfez.

“The robust growth in inbound and outbound Muslim tourism expenditure forecast for Asia presents exciting opportunities for Muslim and non-Muslim destinations, which will benefit national and regional economies by boosting GDP and job creation.”

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The GDP impact of the global Muslim travel sector is projected to reach US$183 billion by 2020, up from US$148 billion in 2017. The industry will directly and indirectly employ 5.6 million people worldwide by the end of the decade, according to Salam Standard’s report.

Asian destinations looking to capitalise on this projected growth should also look outside the region to key Muslim travel source markets, according to the study, which found the Middle East generated the majority of global outbound spend at US$62.2 billion.

This is expected to reach US$72 billion by 2020, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE forecast to contribute an impressive 41 per cent of the total Muslim travel spend worldwide by that date.

The report provides travel industry stakeholders, including airlines, airports, hotels, travel start-ups, technology firms, tourism boards, Destination Management Companies and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), with advice on how to best cater and market to the global Muslim travel community.

“One in three people worldwide will identify as Muslim by 2060 and to disregard this trend would be foolhardy,” said Fadhlillah.

“With the Muslim population growth at 70 per cent compared to the global average of 32 per cent, the Muslim travel market presents many untapped opportunities for countries and organisations that successfully address its needs – and an enormous threat for those who ignore it.”

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