The Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2023 has revealed that Indonesia and Malaysia continue to dominate as the leading destinations for Muslim travelers worldwide. The report, which analyzes data from 138 countries, offers comprehensive insights into the preferences and needs of the growing Halal travel segment. With the Muslim travel market experiencing exponential growth, destinations are increasingly recognizing the importance of catering to this influential demographic.
Rising Influence of Halal Travel
The GMTI highlights the significance of the Halal travel segment, with Muslim international arrivals reaching 110 million in 2022 and projected to rise to 140 million in 2023. By 2028, Muslim arrivals are expected to reach a staggering 230 million, with estimated expenditure of US$225 billion. Asia leads the way in terms of arrivals, with over 31 percent of travelers to the region identifying as Muslim.
Leading the Way
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, and Malaysia, the 20th most populous, have consistently been popular destinations for Muslim travelers. In the GMTI 2023, both countries scored equally, securing the top position. While Indonesia had previously topped the ranking in 2019, Malaysia has maintained its strong position since 2015.
ASEAN Destinations on the Rise
Southeast Asian destinations showcased their appeal by ranking among the top 10 in all four key criteria of the GMTI, namely Access, Communications, Environment, and Services (ACES). Indonesia and Malaysia scored an impressive 73 out of 100, while Singapore ranked 12th with a score of 64. Thailand achieved a score of 52, and the Philippines scored 46. The region’s commitment to providing excellent services and catering to the needs of Muslim travelers has contributed to its success.
Catering to Faith-Oriented Criteria
Muslim travelers have specific requirements when planning their trips, such as the availability of Halal food, prayer rooms, and destination messaging that aligns with their faith. The GMTI highlights the importance of destinations that prioritize these needs, as they tend to perform well among Muslim travelers. By understanding and embracing these requirements, destinations can foster inclusivity and build stronger relationships with this demographic.
Insights and Tools for Destination Development
The GMTI 2023 report introduces four new tools to assist destinations in attracting Muslim travelers. The Muslim Travel Intent Tracker captures the evolving preferences of Muslim travelers across different time frames, enabling destinations to adapt and cater to their changing demands. This tool helps destinations stay informed and adjust their offerings to provide a personalized and satisfying travel experience for Muslim tourists.
The Muslim Traveler Responsible Tourism Framework promotes sustainable choices aligned with the values of the faith. It encourages Muslim travelers to make decisions that support sociocultural, socio-economic, and environmental sustainability. By following this framework, destinations can position themselves as socially and environmentally responsible, appealing to Muslim travelers who prioritize these values. These tools provide valuable insights and strategies for destinations to enhance their offerings, create inclusive environments, and forge stronger connections with the Muslim travel market.
The Future of Muslim Travel
The GMTI reinforces the importance of collaboration and innovation in the travel industry, urging destinations to adapt to the evolving needs of Muslim travelers. With the industry already experiencing a strong recovery post-pandemic, understanding and catering to the preferences of this market segment will be crucial in ensuring long-term growth and resilience.
Indonesia and Malaysia’s consistent dominance as top destinations for Muslim travelers underscores their commitment to providing exceptional services and catering to the specific needs of this demographic. The GMTI 2023 serves as a valuable resource for destinations seeking to attract Muslim travelers, offering insights, tools, and recommendations to enhance their offerings. By embracing inclusivity and aligning with faith-oriented criteria, destinations can forge stronger connections with the Muslim travel market, driving economic growth and fostering sustainable tourism practices.