Malaysia has retained its status as the world's leading halal tourism destination. According to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2022, the country ranked first in the category of 'Muslim-Friendly Destination of the Year (OIC)' once again.
Malaysia has kept the top spot since the index's inception in 2015. This year, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia tied for second place. The GMTI tracks the performance of the Muslim travel market as a whole.
The index was unveiled during the Halal In Travel-Global Summit 2022, which was recently held in Singapore.
Prior to the pandemic, MasterCard and CrescentRating projected that the Muslim traveler market grew rapidly, from 108 million Muslim travelers in 2013 to 160 million in 2019.
With the reopening of global borders, according to the most recent GMTI research, this industry is likely to recover, with 230 million Muslims traveling by 2028.
In the report's prologue, CrescentRating's founder and chief executive officer, Fazal Bahardeen, cautioned that many current global events might derail the momentum.
"This healing process is delicate and might be derailed by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, rising gasoline prices, and other health hazards like as the emergence of monkeypox and Covid-19 variations," he warned.
Nevertheless, Fazal remained hopeful about the worldwide expansion of Muslim tourism.
"We are confident that economies will quickly recover from the devastation caused by the epidemic to lives and livelihoods. Moreover, as the travel industry prepares for international travel without quarantine, we think the Muslim tourism sector might make a significant contribution to quickening the recovery "he stated.
In addition, he emphasized the need of focusing on the main factors that would move the halal travel sector into its next growth phase.
"Women, Generation Z, and millennials are the most important and fastest-growing segments of the Muslim community. 70% of the projected two billion population is under 40 years old, with Gen Z and millennials accounting for 50% "of "the populace" Moreover, female travelers are one of the fastest-growing areas of the Muslim travel industry. They constitute around 45 percent of the world's Muslims "competitors," he added.
The GMTI 2022 also found that meaningful travel is gaining steam in the Muslim travel arena, as younger Muslims seek personal growth while experiencing the globe.
"The aims of the religion emphasize the significance of giving back to the community and safeguarding the environment to preserve natural resources. In addition, the lockdown during the epidemic and the harm it caused to people's lives and livelihoods have enhanced the understanding of the need to be community- and socially conscious when traveling "a report said.
The director-general of the Islamic Tourism Centre, Datuk Dr. Mohmed Razip Hasan, said that contemporary Muslim travelers have more complex demands.
"Muslim travelers today seek transformational experiences that would ideally help to their human development upon their return to their home country, "he remarked.
And locations should accommodate these new requirements of Muslim travelers properly.
""Destination managers could create value for this specific group of Muslim tourists by encouraging them to sign up for volunteer programs at the destination they are visiting, mingle and socialize with the local community, and engage in activities such as attending religious classes and participating in community cleanup programs," he explained.
Mastercard division president (Southeast Asia) Safdar Khan said that catering to the demands of today's Muslim travelers would make firms relevant.
"With the increase of environmental sustainability, companies must explore how to include sustainability into their products in addition to generating personalized travel experiences.
"Asia-Pacific is well-known for its appeal among Muslim tourists. As waits and crowds return to airports, it is crucial to consider the changing nature of travel and the alterations in the demographics of Muslim travelers as a result of the increasing impact of Generation Z, millennials, and women "he added.
Simultaneously, Safdar advised stakeholders to concentrate on the greatest selling element of tourism: experiences.
"As travel begins to recover, it seems to have taken on a new meaning — people no longer want to just see the globe, but rather to experience it," he added.