Malaysia most Muslim-friendly travel destination in 2017

malaysia-travelIn the Mastercard-CresecentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2017, Malaysia topped the list as the world’s best overall travel destination for Muslim travelers, a fast-growing travel segment which is projected to grow to 156 million by 2020, up from 121 million in 2016.

In dollar figures, that amounts to US$220 billion in 2020, and upwards of US$300 billion by 2026.

Malaysia is followed by the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

While the overall ranking is predictably dominated by countries that are part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Singapore (non-OIC) managed to crack the top 10 list. It also leads a breakout ranking of non-OIC countries.

The OIC serves as a collective voice for Muslim countries around the world.

For the index, analysts looked at four key areas: access, communications, environment and services.

Sub-categories within these areas included everything from visa restrictions, family-friendliness, safety, halal food options, access to prayer places and safety.

The results show that Muslim tourists favor Asian destinations, which received the highest average scores, followed by Africa, Oceania, Europe and the Americas.

Half of the top 10 non-OIC destinations, for instance, is taken up by Asian countries, revealing concerted efforts to attract the Muslim travel market, analysts say.

Another notable performer is Spain, which entered the top 10 list for the first time.

After Singapore, Thailand and the UK round out the top three spots.

Here are the top 10 destinations on the Global Muslim Travel Index:

1. Malaysia
2. United Arab Emirates
3. Indonesia
4. Turkey
5. Saudi Arabia
6. Qatar
7. Morocco
8. Oman
9. Bahrain
10. Singapore

Top 10 non-OIC countries:

1. Singapore
2. Thailand
3. UK
4. South Africa
5. Hong Kong
6. Japan
7. Taiwan
8. France
9. Spain
10. United States