Indonesia and Malaysia Ranked As Top Destinations For Muslim Travellers in 2023

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
Photo by Guillaume Marques

According to the newly released Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2023, Indonesia and Malaysia are the top two Muslim travel destinations worldwide.

As it enters its eighth year, the annual report analyzes data from nearly 140 countries to reveal which destinations meet the needs of the increasingly influential halal travel segment.

Globally, the halal travel demographic represents a large market segment. The GMTI estimates that Muslim international arrivals will reach 110 million in 2022 and 140 million in 2023. By 2028, Muslim arrivals are expected to reach 230 million, with an estimated US$225 billion in expenditure. In Asia, 31% of all travelers identify as Muslim, resulting in 230 million arrivals in 2028.

This year, both Indonesia and Malaysia were ranked equally in the GMTI; Indonesia topped the ranking in the 2019 report, while Malaysia has consistently led the index since its inception in 2015. With a ranking of 12th, Singapore is the only country outside the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to rank in the top 20 (along with the UK).

There are four key criteria assessed in the index: Access, Communication, Environment, and Services (ACES). All four South-east Asian destinations ranked among the top ten on these criteria, with Indonesia and Malaysia both scoring 73 (out of 100), Singapore scoring 64, Thailand scoring 52, and the Philippines scoring 46 on average.

Muslim travelers also incorporate sustainability into their travel due to global travel behaviors, according to the report. These behaviors include choosing destinations and activities that improve their health and well-being, finding authentic experiences, and integrating personal development into their travel plans.

The Muslim traveler community is not monolithic, but many of them are looking for travel plans that align with faith-oriented criteria, such as the availability of halal foods, prayer rooms, and encouraging communication from destinations, said CrescentRating’s founder and CEO, Fazal Bahardeen.

Throughout the years, we have consistently observed that markets that prioritize these requirements perform well among Muslim travelers, and we hope that the 2023 edition will provide insights that will allow destinations to gain more understanding, more inclusivity, and ultimately, a closer relationship with this demographic.

In his statement, Safdar Khan, Mastercard division president, of Southeast Asia, said: “With the travel industry already growing at pre-pandemic levels, the GMTI shows how faith-based travelers’ needs have evolved, and how they can be better met to create more resilient tourism services.” The GMTI will help bolster the ongoing recovery in the Muslim travel sector and lay the foundation for future growth.

Muslim Travel Intent Tracker, Muslim Traveller Responsible Tourism Framework, GMTI Performance Matrix, and Muslim Women Friendly Destinations are four new tools included in GMTI’s latest edition.

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