By 2030, Muslims are projected to make up over a quarter of the world’s total population. Their spending power is due to grow significantly over the coming decades as they make up a bigger proportion of the population and become increasingly affluent and mobile.
Last year, Muslim travelers spent US$145 billion traveling and that figure is expected to grow to US$200 billion in less than a decade. Courting the Muslim traveler has never been more lucrative or critical for the global travel industry.
At the recent MasterCard Innovation Forum 2015, MasterCard together with CrescentRating, the world’s leading authority on Halal travel, launched the Muslim Travel Shopping Index 2015 (MTSI 2015).
The Index lists the world’s most popular shopping destinations for Muslim tourists, based not only on the total expenditure of Muslim travelers, but also the availability and accessibility of halal food options, places of worship and ease of travel.
The top five destinations include Dubai (1st), Kuala Lumpur (2nd), and Istanbul (5th) as well as two non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations – Singapore (3rd) and London (4th). A closer look at the rankings also revealed that non-OIC destinations make up more than half of the 40 destinations in the Index. Cities in Asia Pacific scored particularly well with Bangkok, Seoul and Hong Kong also achieving good results.
It is clear that non-OIC destinations are making significant inroads into creating a more Muslim friendly travel environment as they enhance the entire consumer travel shopping and dining experience.
Take Singapore’s success for example – as a multi-ethnic nation, it has an abundance of Halal dining options and has established a dedicated Halal certification body. In addition, there are numerous female-only salons and spas that cater to Muslim women who may prefer a female-only environment for such services.
The MTSI 2015 shows us once again that the Muslim traveler is increasingly shaping the global tourism industry. To avoid losing out, destinations will have to develop strategies for winning over Muslim travelers.
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