The nations of Malaysia and Singapore have once again claimed top spots in the annual MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), which covers 130 destinations, ranking them as the most Muslim-friendly tourism destinations worldwide.
Malaysia retained its number one position on the list of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, with the UAE moving up one spot from last year to second place. Turkey, Indonesia and Qatar comes next, rounding off the top five OIC countries.
For non-OIC destinations, Singapore kept its crown, with Thailand, the UK, South Africa and Hong Kong making up the top five.
Just last November, Thailand's first halal hotel, the Al Meroz Hotel Bangkok, soft-launched in Bangkok’s predominantly Muslim enclave of Ramkhamhaeng, bolstering its position as the second-most Muslim-friendly non-OIC destination.
The study further revealed that in 2015, there were an estimated 117 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally, representing close to 10 per cent of the entire travel market. This is forecasted to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 with a market value spend projected to exceed US$200 billion.
Countries analysed in the GMTI are scored against criterias including suitability as a family holiday destination, the level of services and facilities provided, accommodation options, marketing initiatives as well as visitor arrivals. This year, two new criteria – air connectivity and visa restrictions – were added.