Indonesia and Malaysia – the top destination for Muslim travellers

Indonesia and Malaysia claim joint top spot as the best destinations for Muslim travellers, while non-OIC countries like Singapore and the UK also make the top 20 list.  

The Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2023 analyses data across nearly 140 countries to offer insights into which destinations best meet the needs of the halal travel segment.

Indonesia caught up with last year’s leader Malaysia. They are followed by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, and Qatar. Among the non-OIC destinations, Singapore is in 11th, while the UK jumped 8 places to 20th.

Now in its eighth year, this year’s GMTI also identified the top Muslim Women Friendly destinations, with Malaysia and Singapore leading this list in the OIC and non-OIC categories respectively.  

GMTI ranks destinations on how prepared they are to leverage the Muslim travel market, with scores given on how they make the lives of Muslim travellers stress-free.  

The criteria include ease of access to the destination, communication by the destination, the environment at the destination (including safety records and sustainability) and the services available for Muslims (such as halal food, hotels, etc.).

Muslim travellers looking for faith accommodations

“While by no means a monolith, Muslim travellers are often looking for their travel plans to align with certain faith-oriented criteria, such as availability of halal foods, rooms for prayer, and encouraging communications and messaging from destinations,” said Fazal Bahardeen, founder & CEO, CrescentRating.

He continued: “Over the years we’ve conducted this research, we’ve consistently seen markets that prioritise these requirements perform well among Muslim travellers, and so it is our hope that the 2023 edition offers insights that will allow destinations to garner more understanding, more inclusivity, and ultimately, a closer relationship with this demographic.”

Indonesia and Malaysia have long been attractive choices for Muslim travellers. Indonesia was previously ranked first in the 2019 report, while Malaysia has consistently been a leading destination in the GMTI since 2015.

According to GMTI, in 2022, there were 110 million Muslim international visitors — 12% of all international arrivals. Muslim traveller arrivals will rise to 140 million in 2023 and recover to the pre-pandemic levels of 160 million by 2024.  

It projects that Muslim arrivals will reach 230 million by 2028, with an estimated expenditure of USD 225 Billion. Currently, Asia leads the way for arrivals, with more than 31% of all travellers to this region identifying as Muslim.

The report also highlighted how global travel behaviours influence trends among Muslim travellers.  

This demographic is now more inclined towards sustainable travel, choosing destinations and activities that promote health and wellness, and seeking immersive experiences and authenticity.

Favourite travel destinations for Muslims

The top OIC destinations in the report:

1. Malaysia
1. Indonesia
3. Saudi Arabia
4. UAE
5. Türkiye  
6. Qatar
7. Iran
7. Jordan
9. Bahrain
9. Egypt

The top non-OIC destinations:

1. Singapore
2. United Kingdom
3. Taiwan
4. Thailand
5. Hong Kong
6. Japan
7. Philippines
7. Germany
7. South Africa
7. Spain


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