Indonesia is officially the world’s top Muslim-friendly destination for travel, according to the latest Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI). The news has been confirmed just in time for the holy month of Ramadhan, when Indonesia’s predominantly Muslim population begins a month of fasting.
The GMTI tracks the growth and popularity of 130 destinations worldwide, both inside and beyond the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It provides data in four strategic areas: access, communications, environment and services. With a total score of 78 on the GMTI, Indonesia has climbed up from last year’s number two position in the annual rankings and now shares top spot with neighbouring Malaysia.
The boon for halal tourism in Indonesia has been attributed to sustained government investment and promotion in the sector; Indonesia is growing steadily in popularity with holidaymakers from the Middle East and South Asia, due to a combination of its many attractive locations, varied halal dining and widespread facilities geared towards prayer and pilgrimage.
The recent boom in halal tourism to popular locations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Turkey has been credited, in part, to an emerging demographic of Millennial Muslim travellers. The Global Muslim Travel Index registered a total of 121 million Muslim international travellers in 2016 and projected this figure would grow to 156 million by 2020. In 2018, there were an estimated 140 million Muslim tourists globally – up from 131 million in 2017. Today, they account for an estimated 10 per cent of inbound tourism revenue worldwide.
The Muslim travel market has enormous potential for the industry, yet this resource remains largely untapped; Halal tourism contributions to the global economy are expected to top US$300 billion by 2026 – an increase of 35 per cent on the US$220 billion projected for 2020.
For Muslim travellers around the world, Indonesia represents an attractive alternative throughout the year, but especially during Ramadhan and the Idul Fitri holiday. For the Indonesian tourism industry, products and services catering to the growing number of Muslim travellers represent a lucrative move into an emerging market, and one with strong growth forecasted for years to come.