The Muslim travel market is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world, but despite its huge potential, remains relatively untapped. By 2026, the Halal travel sector’s contribution to the global economy is expected to jump 35 percent to USD300 billion, up from USD220 billion in 2020. By that time, Muslim visitors globally are forecast to grow to 230 million visitors, to represent more than 10 percent of tourists worldwide.
For the first time, Malaysia and Indonesia share the top spot in the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2019. The report includes 130 destinations globally, within and outside the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Singapore continues to be the top Muslim-friendly travel destination among non-OIC destinations, followed by Thailand, the United Kingdom, Japan and Taiwan.
The GMTI tracks the health and growth of Muslim-friendly travel destinations in four strategic areas – access, communications, environment and services. The GMTI is now the leading study providing insights and data to help countries, the travel industry and investors gauge the development of travel sectors while benchmarking a country’s progress in catering to Muslim travelers.
Indonesia ties for top Muslim-visitor destination
Indonesia has reached the top spot on the Index through the sustained efforts by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism to invest in its tourism and travel industry, and develop Muslim-tourist friendly infrastructure. Climbing up from number two, Indonesia now shares the top spot with Malaysia, with a score of 78 on the Index.
Other OIC countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Oman and Brunei continue to be popular with Muslim tourists. These destinations can continue to reap the benefits of their inherently Muslim-friendly environment by leveraging new technologies to strategically build services that better engage young, millennial Muslim travelers.
Asian nations dominate non-OIC destinations
Among non-OIC countries, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Japan and Taiwan have retained their positions in the top five and have further improved their scores on the Index.
In a first for South Korea and the Philippines, these countries have entered the top 10 non-OIC destinations, displacing Germany and Australia. Spain has also entered the list of top 10 non-OIC countries, emerging as a key Halal-friendly European destination for Muslim travelers this year.
In an effort to attract more Muslim tourists, non-OIC destinations have been much more active, as compared with some OIC destinations, in developing their capacity and capability to attract Muslim travelers. For example, destinations such as Spain, South Korea and the Philippines have developed useful resources and travel guides that cater to Muslim preferences by listing best Halal restaurants and nearby prayer facilities.
Halal Travel 2.0
The Halal travel market has undergone significant changes in recent years. At the start of this decade, businesses, hotels and tour operators provided functional services that catered to the needs of Muslim tourists – Halal Travel 1.0. These offerings included Halal food options, water-friendly washrooms, and prayer facilities.
Driven by the rapid pace of digital and technological transformation, a new phase of Muslim travel is emerging, one that is defined by experience and connectivity – Halal Travel 2.0. Halal Travel 2.0 leverages on technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality, to better engage Muslim travelers in the digital age.
Halal Travel Development Goals
CrescentRating has defined five categories that can help further develop the Halal travel sector. The Halal Travel Development Goals provide an overarching framework that serves as a blueprint for the travel industry. Organizations and partners can use these goals to guide their growth strategies in the Halal travel sector.
Five Halal Travel Development Goals include:
- Integration, Diversity and Faith: Enable Muslims to be active citizens of the global community while remaining spiritual.
- Heritage, Culture and Connection: Connect Muslim travelers to one another, to the local community, and to the heritage and history of their chosen destination.
- Education, Insights and Capabilities: Enhance understanding among communities. Increase academic and industry knowledge that can improve the capabilities of stakeholders.
- Industry, Innovation and Trade: Create new opportunities to increase commerce through tourism and drive growth across multiple sectors.
- Well-Being and Sustainable Tourism: Recognize the responsibilities of stakeholders in the travel sector and the social impact on travelers, the wider community and the environment.
“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’ as well as the updated ‘Muslim Faith Based Services Needs’ to help all stakeholders develop clear plans to grow the market,” said Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip.
“Mastercard is committed to working with partners to expand this dynamic travel segment. As more Muslim travelers 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 travelers,” said Safdar Khan, Division President Indonesia, Malaysia & Brunei, Mastercard.
The full report is available at: https://www.crescentrating.com/halal-muslim-travel-market-reports.html.