KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — Malaysia has retained its position as the foremost destination in the global Muslim travel market as rivals look to close the gap fast, according to the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018.
The index, which covers 130 destinations, saw Malaysia retain the premier spot for the eighth consecutive year, while Indonesia built on its year-on-year growth by moving up to joint second with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the overall rankings.
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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.
“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 Chief Executive Officer of CrescentRating & HalalTrip, Fazal Bahardeen in a statement today.
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.
Malaysia scored an Index score of 80.6, followed by the UAE and Indonesia at 72.8.
In comparison, Singapore which was the highest scoring non-OIC destination at 66.2.
The GMTI 2018 also confirmed the Muslim travel market is on course to continue its fast-paced growth to reach US$220 billion (RM853.6 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 by 2020, representing 10 per cent of the travel segment.
Meanwhile, Mastercard’s Division President Indonesia, Malaysia & Brunei, Safdar Khan said the fast-growing Muslim travel segment is an opportunity in plain sight, but to benefit, it is crucial to understand the needs and preferences of Muslim travellers 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,” he added.
It is estimated the Asean region will welcome over 18 million Muslim visitor arrivals by 2020, representing close to 15 per cent of the visitor arrivals to the region.
“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 to stay ahead of the curve,” Khan said.
Some of these initiatives include the establishment of the Islamic Tourism Centre to facilitate market intelligence, tourism policy development and capacity-building services and an upcoming framework under the Halal Industry Master Plan 2.0 to address industry developments
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 traveller.
All 130 destinations in the GMTI 2018 have been scored against a backdrop of criteria with some new metrics added for this year’s research, including the CrescentRating Growth-Innovation Model.
Key metric criteria include access, which also embraces 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. — Bernama