Turkey is the third most popular destination in the global Muslim travel market, according to the most comprehensive research yet released on this sector. The MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016, which covers 130 destinations, saw Turkey take third place on the list of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations behind Malaysia, which retained its primary position followed by the UAE.
In May, Turkey will host the world's biggest international conference on halal tourism with the Halal Tourism Conference 2016 in Konya, bringing together some of the world's leading names in the travel industry. This conference is expected to foster halal tourism and further contribute to Turkey's popularity as a trending travel destination.
Indonesia climbed two places to take the fourth spot with Bahrain becoming the biggest mover, jumping four spots to come in 10th place. Singapore also retained first position amongst non-OIC destinations, with Thailand, the UK, South Africa and Hong Kong making up the top five.
The study also revealed that in 2015, there were an estimated 117 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally, representing close to 10 percent of the entire travel market. This is forecasted to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 - equal to 11 percent of the market segment, with a market value projected to exceed $200 billion. Asia and Europe were also revealed as the two leading regions in the world for attracting Muslim visitors, accounting for 87 percent of the entire market.
Regarding the outcome of the GMTI, CrescentRating & HalalTrip CEO Fazal Bahardeen said: "The MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2016 has now become the number one tool for destinations around the world to realign their strategies to reach out to the Muslim consumer. One of the biggest trends we are seeing is non-OIC destinations making a concerted effort to attract Muslim tourists, and they now represent over 63 percent of the destinations covered in the GMTI. For example, Japan and the Philippines have taken some major steps over the last few months to diversify their visitor arrivals, and boost their economy in the process."
Global Products & Solutions for the Asia Pacific Region of MasterCard Group Executive Matthew Driver drew attention to the rapidly growing potential of the Muslim travel market, saying: "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. The fast-growing Muslim travel segment is an opportunity in plain sight, but in order to benefit from it, it is crucial to understand the needs and preferences of Muslim travelers and how to adapt and tailor products and services for them. We believe that the GMTI provides real value to businesses and governments looking to tap into this important market segment."
The GMTI 2016 is the most comprehensive research available on one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the world, which represents 10 percent of the entire travel economy. The GMTI looks at in-depth data covering 130 destinations, up from 100 in 2015. This is the first time such thorough insights have been provided on one of the world's fastest-growing tourism sectors.
The index helps destinations, travel services and investors to track the health and growth of this travel segment, while benchmarking their individual progress in reaching out to this growing market.
All 130 destinations in the GMTI were scored against a backdrop of criteria that included suitability as a family holiday destination, the level of services and facilities provided, accommodation options and marketing initiatives as well as visitor arrivals.
Turkey had an index score of 73.9, placing it third in the overall combined list. Malaysia scored 81.9, followed by the UAE at 74.7. In comparison, the highest scoring non-OIC destination Singapore scored 68.4, with second place Thailand at 59.5.