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Malaysia top destination for Muslim travel

Staff writer |
Against the backdrop of additional criteria, Malaysia continues to top the Global Muslim Travel Index this year.

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It is the sixth year in a row that Malaysia has ranked number one having topped the previous rankings produced by CrescentRating since 2011.

The first edition of the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) was released in March 2015 and covered 100 destinations.

There were an estimated 117 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally, representing close to 10% of the entire travel market in 2015, according to the study.

This number is forecast to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020, equal to 11% of the market segment, with the market value projected to exceed US $200 billion.

This year the GMTI 2016 looks at in-depth data covering 130 destinations. Two new criteria – air connectivity and visa restrictions – have been added to further enhance the Index.

The criteria used in GMTI 2016 centers around the following three themes:

- Family-friendly holiday and safe travel destination (Family-friendly Destination; Muslim Traveler and General Safety; and Muslim Visitor Arrivals)

- Muslim-friendly services and facilities at the destination (Dining Options and Halal Assurance; Access to Prayer Places; Airport Facilities and Accommodation Options)

- Halal awareness and destination marketing (Ease of Communication; Muslim Travel Needs Awareness and Outreach; Air Connectivity; and Visa Requirements)

Each of these themes are looked at from a set of eleven main criteria. Each of the criteria are weighted averages of more than 25 sub-criteria.

Malaysia has consistently been able to maintain its standing amongst the main three themes of Family-friendly holiday and safe travel destination Muslim-friendly services and facilities at the destination, and Halal awareness and destination marketing.

United Arab Emirates has overtaken Turkey to take the second spot, while Indonesia has improved its ranking to move to the 4th place.

Among the non-OIC countries, Singapore retained its top position while Taiwan and Japan have continued to improve their overall ranking.

Although OIC destinations have a distinct advantage due to having Muslim-friendly facilities and services, some non-OIC destinations are specifically targeting the “Muslim Holiday” market and adapting their services to attract them. GMTI 2016 shows that many non-OIC destinations are moving up the ranking at a faster pace.

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