Travel destinations

Malaysia and Singapore ranked among most suitable travel destinations for Muslims

Malaysia and Singapore are once again at the top of the list of the most suitable holiday destinations for Muslims, according to the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2021. Both countries have maintained their pole position since the inception of the GMTI index in 2015.

This year’s GMTI report, which ranked 140 destinations on their readiness to attract the international Muslim travel market to the Covid-19 environment, saw Malaysia retain its top spot.

Before Covid, Muslim international travelers to Singapore account for around 20% of total visitor arrivals

For Malaysia as well as for Singapore, the main challenge in maintaining pole position when international travel resumes would be to identify the new behaviors and expectations of the post-pandemic Muslim traveler in order to better meet their needs.

Speaking at a forum session titled “Preparing OIC Destinations for Halal Travel” at the Global Halal in Travel Summit 2021, Mohmed Razip Hasan, Director General of the Islamic Tourism Center (ITC) in Malaysia, a said attracting international Muslim travelers to Malaysia will be more difficult post-Covid due to changing behaviors and travel demands. “We need to understand the new behaviors and make sure our product lines appeal to (these travelers),” he said.

Another challenge he foresees is the competition of destinations for the Muslim market. He noted that majority non-Muslim countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong are also working hard to increase their share of the lucrative global Muslim market with a population of 1.9 billion, of which 300 million reside in South East Asia.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri noted in her opening speech at the summit that ITC has developed a Muslim Friendly Accommodation Recognition Program (MFAR) to help Muslim tourists identify accommodation that would meet their needs in terms of prayer facilities, halal food and family-friendly services.

For hoteliers, the recognition program is a value-added marketing tool to reach the wider Muslim tourism market. A total of 44 hotels in Malaysia were recognized, including local chains such as Sunway Hotels, The Light and Perdana Hotels as well as international brands such as Mövenpick, Hilton, Pullman and Sofitel. Grand Hyatt and the Marriott Group have also applied to participate in the program, she said.

John Gregory Conceicao, Executive Director, Southeast Asia, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), explained at a forum titled “Marketing to Muslim Travelers from a Destination Perspective” that Muslim international travelers before Covid in Singapore account for around 20% of total visitor arrivals.

One of the misconceptions that STB is working to correct among Malaysian and Indonesian Muslim visitors to Singapore is that halal food is mostly Malaysian Muslim food.

Conceicao said that halal food and certified halal food in Singapore are very diverse and include Western, Spanish and Italian dishes. Going forward, STB will promote modern Singaporean cuisine as part of its marketing initiatives to attract overseas Muslim travelers, alongside new Singapore offerings, hearts and nature-based attractions. .


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