The UAE has climbed to second most popular destination in the global Muslim travel market, according to the comprehensive research.
The MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016 covers 130 destinations and saw the UAE move up one spot from last year behind Malaysia which retained its position on the list of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations. Turkey, Indonesia and Qatar round off the top five.
Indonesia climbed two places to take fourth spot while Bahrain jumped four spots to take the 10th position. Singapore also retained its position for the non-OIC destinations, with Thailand, the UK, South Africa and Hong Kong making up the top five.
The study also revealed that in 2015, there were an estimated 117 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally, representing close to 10% of the entire travel market. This is forecasted to grow to 168 m visitors by 2020 equal to 11% of the market segment with a market value projected to exceed US$200 billion.
Asia and Europe were also revealed as the two leading regions in the world for attracting Muslim visitors – accounting for 87% of the entire market.
“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% of destinations covered in the GMTI. For example, 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,” said Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip.
All 130 destinations in the GMTI were scored against a backdrop of criteria that included suitability as a family holiday destination, the level of services and facilities it provides, accommodation options, marketing initiatives as well as visitor arrivals. UAE had an Index score of 74.7 placing it second in the overall combined list. Malaysia scored 81.9 while Turkey posted 73.9. In comparison, the highest scoring non-OIC destination Singapore scored 68.4 with second place Thailand at 59.5.