South Africa has maintained its fourth position as the top performing destination of a sector expected to be worth $220 billion by 2020 according to the most comprehensive research released on the global Muslim travel market.
The Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2017, which was officially launched in Jakarta, saw South Africa rank behind Singapore, Thailand and the UK of non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations while Malaysia kept the pole position for OIC and overall. Indonesia moved up to third place in the overall rankings.
The Index, which covers 130 destinations, showed a number of non- OIC destinations in Asia move up the rankings, a result of the concerted effort to adapt their services to cater to and attract the Muslim travel market.
The rankings saw Hong Kong make up the top five for the non-OIC destinations, with Japan moving up two places to take sixth spot with Spain entering the top 10 for the first time.
The research showed that the Muslim travel market will continue to grow at a fast pace with the sector estimated to grow to US$220 billion in 2020. It is expected to grow a further US$80 billion to reach US$300 billion by 2026.
It was also revealed that in 2016, there were an estimated 121 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally – up from 117 million in 2015 – and this is forecasted to grow to 156 million visitors by 2020 representing 10 percent of the travel segment.
Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip, said the GMTI continued to reveal detailed insights which will assist destinations in better understanding the shifting needs of the segment.
“We are definitely seeing the influence of a new breed of young travelers, millennials and Gen Z who are combining technology with a real desire to explore the world while still adhering to their faith-based needs.
"As Muslim travel continues to diversify, keeping on top of the demographics of the travelers though these insights from the GMTI will be paramount for destination management teams and decision makers who are ultimately sourcing solutions for this market,” he said.
Safdar Khan, Division President, Indonesia, Malaysia & Brunei, Mastercard said, “Muslim travel market remains a strong driver for the continued growth in travel across the world. It’s constantly evolving with major forces such as changing demographics and digitization shaping the way the industry is progressing.