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Islamic Lifestyle

Southeast Asian countries, Saudi Arabia among top Muslim tourist hotspots

Indonesia and Malaysia have shared the top spot as leading destinations for Muslim tourists over the last 12 months, followed closely by Saudi Arabia, a report has revealed. 

A total of 145 destinations were analysed on factors of access, communication, environment and service in the 2024 edition of the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI). New metrics such as the availability of facilities and services for travellers with disabilities were also considered in this year’s study. 

The GMTI, now in its ninth year, ranked Indonesia and Malaysia first because of their “consistent focus on enhancing Muslim-friendly travel facilities, including widespread availability of halal food, extensive prayer facilities, and dedicated tourism services,” the report said. Both countries shared an overall score of 76. 

Saudi Arabia ran them close, shy of two points, scoring a total of 74 on the index. The kingdom continues to benefit from its religious tourism due to Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, and is increasing diversifying its tourism offerings, the report added. 

Türkiye ranked fourth (score: 73), due to its “robust infrastructure for Muslim travellers and rich cultural heritage”. The UAE secured the fifth spot. 

GMTI 2024 Rank Change versus 2023  Destination  GMTI 2024 Scores
1 0 Indonesia 76
1 0 Malaysia 76
3 0 Saudi Arabia 74
4 +1 Türkiye 73
5 -1 UAE 72
Source: Mastercard-Crescentrating Global Muslim Travel Index 2024

Meanwhile, Singapore led among non-OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) destinations for the ninth consecutive year, owned to its commitment to Muslim travellers in terms of halal food availability, prayer facilities, suitable airport amenities, and Muslim-friendly accommodation.

“It is encouraging to see that the travel sectors in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore not only maintained their rankings in this year's GMTI, but also improved their individual scores. This reflects a broader trend of increased consideration for Muslim travellers,” said Fazal Bahardeen, CrescentRating’s founder and CEO. 

Muslim travel market is expected to grow significantly this year, with global international arrivals potentially reaching up to 168 million. This figure would beat pre-pandemic levels by as much as 5%, the report suggested.