SINGAPORE, March 23 (Bernama) -- Malaysia retained its position as the top destination in the global Muslim travel market, says MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016.
Malaysia also retained its number one position on the list of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations, according to the findings of a research carried out by the company.
The study also revealed that in 2015, there was an estimated 117 million Muslim visitors globally, representing close to 10 per cent of the entire travel market.
This is forecast to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 representing 11 per cent of the market segment with a market value spend projected to exceed US$200 billion (RM600 billion).
Asia and Europe were the two leading regions in the world for attracting Muslim visitors' arrival - accounting for 87 per cent of the entire market.
"The MasterCard-CrescentRating GMTI 2016 has now become the number one tool for destinations around the world to realign their strategies to reach out to Muslim consumers," said Chief Executive Officer of CrescentRating & HalalTrip Fazal Bahardeen in a statement Wednesday.
"One of the biggest trends we are seeing is non-OIC destinations are making a concerted effort to attract Muslim tourists and they now represent over 63 per cent of the destinations covered in the GMTI.
"For example, Japan and Philippines have taken some major steps over the last few months to diversify their visitors' arrivals and to boost their economy in the process," he said.
Malaysia has an index score of 81.9 followed by United Arab Emirates at 74.7 and Turkey at 73.9.
The highest scoring non-OIC destination was Singapore which scored 68.4 followed by Thailand at 59.5.
From a regional perspective, Asia Pacific destinations led with an average GMTI score of 56.5.
"Many already successful destinations around the world are looking to diversify their visitors' arrival base to maintain tourist growth rates in today's increasingly competitive travel market," said Matthew Driver, MasterCard Group Executive, Global Products & Solutions, Asia Pacific.
"The fast growing Muslim travel segment is an opportunity but in order to benefit from it, it is crucial to understand the needs and preference of Muslim travellers and how to adapt and tailor products and services for them.
"We believe that the GMTI provides real value for businesses and governments looking to tap into this important and growing market segment," he added.
The GMTI looks at in-depth data covering 130 destinations, up from 100 covered in the 2015 index.
It helps travel service providers and investors to track the health and growth of this travel segment while benchmark their individual progress in reaching out to this growing market.
All 130 destinations in the GMTI have been scored against a backdrop of criteria including suitability as a family holiday destination, the level of services and facilities provided, accommodation options, marketing initiatives as well as tourist arrivals.