Dubai – “ASWAQ”
The UAE has been ranked the second most popular destination for Muslims, according to a recent research by MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016.
The survey which covers 130 destinations, saw the UAE jump one spot up from last year to second position after Malaysia, which retained its top position on the list of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations.
Indonesia jumped two steps to fourth position and Bahrain created the biggest move by jumping four spots to 10th position.
The non-OIC destination was led by Singapore, followed by Thailand, the UK, South Africa and Hong Kong making up the top five.
The study also revealed that in 2015, approximately 117 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally, representing almost 10 percent of the entire travel market. This figure is forecast to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 equivalent to 11 percent of the market segment with a market value projected to exceed US$200 billion.
In 2015, Asia and Europe were the two leading regions in the world in terms of attracting Muslim visitors, accounting for 87 percent of the entire market.
UAE MasterCard, senior vice president and general manager, Eyad Al Kourdi said, “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 and the UAE remains committed to intensifying its tourism offerings across all segments.”
Crescent Rating & Halal Trip, CEO, Fazal Bahardeen added, “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 percent of the 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.”
The GMTI score on all 130 destinations was based on several 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. Two new criteria have been introduced this year to further enhance the Index i.e. air connectivity and visa restrictions.
The UAE scored 74.7 thus placing it second in the overall combined list after Malaysia, which scored 81.9, while Turkey posted 73.9. As for the non-OIC destinations, Singapore topped with a score of 68.4 with Thailand at second place score of 59.5.