Does Asia’s most Muslim-friendly destination surprise you?

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THE MUSLIM TRAVEL MARKET is flourishing as an industry in its own right.

It continues to grow, change and evolve with the needs and demands of the Muslim traveler and is expected to be worth a whopping US$300 billion by 2026.

This would contribute 156 million tourists to the travel industry.

According to the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018, a growing Muslim population, increasing disposable income, and access to more halal facilities are contributing to the growth of the market.

Islam is the second most followed, and fastest growing religion in the world, and the younger Muslim generations are finding themselves with more disposable income than their parents may have had.

Halal travel is made easier with the support of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states and other nations not belonging to this community but still promoting Muslim travel.

Based on criteria including halal food, Salaath (praying), water usage-friendly washrooms, Ramadhan services, no non-halal activities, and recreational facilities in privacy, the GMTI report was able to determine Asia’s most Muslim-friendly destinations.

OIC member nations

1.Malaysia

Malaysia retains its top spot for its eighth consecutive year, not just in Asia but the world over. Considering Malaysia is already set up with Muslim facilities, being a Muslim country, it doesn’t come as that much of a surprise.

Malaysia is also seen as a middle-class destination, already equipped with plenty of activities perfect for Muslim travelers.

2. Indonesia

3. United Arab Emirates

4. Turkey

5. Saudi Arabia

6. Qatar

7. Bahrain

8. Oman

9. Morocco (not in Asia)

10. Kuwait

Non-OIC destinations

1. Singapore

On the end of the Malaysian peninsula is the prosperous island nation of Singapore. Scoring high in categories of safe travel environment, some halal dining options and ease of communication meant Singapore could secure the position for another year.

2. Thailand

3. United Kingdom (not in Asia)

4. Japan

5. Taiwan

6. Hong Kong

7. South Africa (not in Asia)

8. Germany (not in Asia)

9. France (not in Aisa)

10. Australia

What does the future of Muslim travel look like?

According to the GMTI 2018 report, the Muslim lifestyle space is experiencing several dynamic shifts.

The report identified three significant areas that are expected to completely alter the future of Muslim travel – for the better.

Striving to educate and accredit

With so many options for Muslim travelers, a basic halal menu, small prayer facilities and dull halal activities aren’t going to cut it anymore.

Hotel brands, restaurant groups, and tour companies are racing to have training on the needs of Muslim travelers.

Understand the dynamic profiles of Muslim travelers

No one traveler is the same, Muslim or otherwise.

The next trend in halal tourism will be identifying and providing unique experiences for varying travelers, from Muslim millennials to the digitally connected and family vacationers to the luxury traveler.

While the underlying Islamic values will remain the same for every Muslim traveler, the desires will differ for each.

Changing and adapting means investment

“With the emergence of AI-enabled travel services, there is a need for robust data, with data integrity, privacy, and protection,” explains the report.

This technology provides destinations the opportunity to further differentiate from what others are offering.

The report also suggests destinations, hotels, tour groups and dining facilities to use this technology to personally connect with Muslim travelers, opposed to just complying with industry standards.