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Published: 08 June,2024 | Updated: 08 June,2024
Southeast Asian destinations take top ranks in Global Muslim Travel Index 2024

Southeast Asia has once again emerged as the world’s leading Muslim tourist destination in the latest edition of the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), with Indonesia and Malaysia tied for the top spot among 145 destinations in the 2024 study.

Meanwhile, Singapore has consistently led among Non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations for the ninth consecutive year, underscoring its unwavering dedication to cater to Muslim travelers by widespread availability of Halal food, prayer facilities, suitable airport amenities, and Muslim-friendly accommodation.

According to the report released on May 30, 2024, the Muslim travel market is set for a significant uptick this year, with global international arrivals potentially reaching up to 168 million, exceeding pre-pandemic levels by as much as 5 percent. This growth in volume highlights the rising prominence of the segment, driven by demographic and economic expansion, cultural and Halal tourism development, and technological advancements that enable more personalized travel experiences for Muslim travelers, such as apps that locate Halal food outlets, Qibla directions, and prayer timings. The impact of artificial intelligence is also helping further customize travel experiences to simplify travel logistics while adhering to faith traditions.

Retaining their joint top position as the leading OIC destinations for Muslim travelers for the 2nd consecutive year, Indonesia and Malaysia also scored favorably on ease of entry and quality of tourism infrastructure for both Muslim and non-Muslim travelers.

Thailand maintained its position in the top five non-OIC destinations, owing to efforts towards promoting Halal tourism like increasing Halal food availability, integration of Muslim-friendly amenities at tourist spots, and enhanced accommodation and dining options for Muslim travelers. 

Meanwhile, the Philippines recorded an increase in its score on communications compared to 2023. Among non-OIC destinations, the Philippines has steadily increased its appeal to Muslim tourists by strategically developing their Halal Tourism portfolio, enhancing halal accreditation of hotels and restaurants, and conducting Halal awareness orientations. This effort builds on their achievement of winning the Emerging Muslim-friendly Destination of the Year award in last year’s Halal in Travel Global Summit, based on GMTI 2023 results. 

GMTI, now in its ninth year, analyzes data across 145 destinations using the ACES framework, built around metrics on Access, Communication, Environment, and Services. Over time, the criteria have evolved to keep pace with the changing needs of Muslim travelers. This year, new metrics on availability of facilities and services for travelers with disabilities were added to the model.

“It is encouraging to see that the travel sectors in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore not only maintained their rankings in this year's GMTI, but also improved their individual scores. This reflects a broader trend of increased consideration for Muslim travelers, with average scores across the Index rising by 10 percent,” said Fazal Bahardeen, Founder & CEO, CrescentRating. Mr. Bahardeen also added: “It is also positive to see the Philippines continue to improve its score, which demonstrates the unwavering commitment of the Department of Tourism to bolstering Muslim-friendly tourism and advancing the destination's appeal. As Muslim travel continues to gain momentum, the GMTI 2024 report provides invaluable insights for stakeholders across the travel and tourism sector to leverage the growing Muslim travel market.”

Safdar Khan, Division President, Southeast Asia, Mastercard, said: “According to the latest report from the Mastercard Economics Institute (MEI),  travelers from and to Southeast Asia are becoming increasingly focused on getting the best value from their trips to ensure the most unforgettable experiences, a shift echoed in the rapidly growing global Halal tourism industry. At the same time, technology is helping this demographic to travel in ways that meet their unique needs, from AI-powered hyper-personalized experiences to Mastercard’s own enablement of easy and secure cross-border payments. Together this heralds a new level of convenience for Muslim travelers and unlocks a new era of growth and profitability for travel operators. Mastercard’s long-running collaboration with CrescentRating is both a testament to the strength of the partnership and the ongoing importance of understanding and serving Muslim travelers.”