The sector is expected to be worth US$220bn by 2020 according to the most comprehensive research released on the global Muslim travel market. The Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2017, which was officially launched in Jakarta on May 3, saw Oman lose one spot since 2016 in a list which is topped by Malaysia, followed by the UAE.
Indonesia moved up to the third place in the overall rankings. The index, which covers 130 destinations, showed a number of non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations in Asia move up the rankings, a result of the concerted effort to adapt their services to cater to and attract the Muslim travel market. Singapore retained its pole position for the non-OIC destinations, with Thailand, the UK, South Africa and Hong Kong rounding up the top five.
Japan moved up two places to take sixth spot with Spain entering the top ten for the first time. The research showed that the Muslim travel market will continue to grow at a fast pace with the sector estimated to grow to US$220bn by 2020. It is expected to grow a further US$80bn to reach US$300bn by 2026. It was also revealed that in 2016, there were an estimated 121mn Muslim visitor arrivals globally – up from 117mn in 2015 – and this is forecast to grow to 156mn visitors by 2020.
Asia has been the leading continent in terms of attractiveness to Muslim tourists with an average GMTI score of 57.6, with Africa coming in second place at 47.0, followed by Oceania (43.8), Europe (39.9) and the Americas (33.7). Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip, said the GMTI continues to reveal detailed insights which will assist destinations in understanding the shifting needs of the segment.