Muslim travellers favour UAE
It is ranked second-most popular destination in the global Muslim travel market
The UAE has ranked the second-most popular destination in the global Muslim travel market, revealed MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016.
Malaysia retained the top position by securing a score of 81.9 and the UAE moved up one spot to take the second position with an Index score of 74.7.
There was an estimated 117 million Muslim visitors globally, representing close to 10 per cent of the entire travel market. This is forecasted to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020, equal to 11 per cent of the market segment with a market value projected to exceed $200 billion.Key drivers of the Muslim travel market growth were population growth, a growing middle class, younger population, increasing access to travel information and increasing availability of Muslim-friendly travel services and facilities.
Better Internet access coupled with a high penetration of smartphones have made travel planning easier in general. Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among the top countries when it comes to smartphone penetration. A younger, more technology-savvy population also means more Muslims are active on social media and use it to get information.
Asia and Europe were also revealed as the two leading regions in the world for attracting Muslim visitors - accounting for 87 per cent of the entire market.
The 130 destinations - representing more than 95 per cent of Muslim visitor arrivals in 2015 - ranked in the report covered 48 OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) destinations and 82 non-OIC destinations.
"Many already successful destinations around the world are looking to diversify their visitor base to maintain tourist growth rates in today's increasingly competitive travel market. The UAE remains committed to intensifying its tourism offerings across all segments. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the country is making great strides in the global Muslim travel market as well as rising to second place..," Eyad Al Kourdi, senior vice-president and general manager, UAE, MasterCard, said in a statement.
Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip, said: "One of the biggest trends we are seeing is non-OIC destinations making a concerted effort to attract the Muslim tourist and they now represent over 63 per cent of the destinations covered in the GMTI. Japan and Philippines have taken some major steps over the last few months to diversify their visitor arrivals and boost their economy in the process."
Indonesia climbed two places to take the fourth spot while Bahrain became the biggest mover, jumping four spots to take the 10th position.
Singapore also retained its pole position for the non-OIC destinations, with Thailand, the UK, South Africa and Hong Kong making up the top five.
The overall average GMTI score for 130 destinations currently stands at 43.7. From a regional perspective, Asia Pacific destinations lead with an average GMTI score of 56.5.
Each criterion was then weighted to make up the overall index score. This year, two new criteria - air connectivity and visa restrictions - were added to further enhance the Index.
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