Indonesia and Malaysia shared the top position in the 2019 Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), which was released by Mastercard-CrescentRating last month.  

Last year, Indonesia was placed second behind Malaysia. This year, they both scored 78 in the index.

There is no second position this year.

Other Organization for Economic Cooperation (OIC) countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Oman and Brunei continue to be popular with Muslim tourists.

These destinations can continue to reap the benefits of their inherently Muslim-friendly environment by leveraging new technologies to strategically build services that better engage young, millennial Muslim travelers, the report stated.

Among non-OIC countries, Singapore, Thailand, the UK, Japan and Taiwan have retained their positions in the top five non-OIC destinations for Muslim travelers.

In a first for South Korea and the Philippines, these countries have entered the top 10 non-OIC destinations, displacing Germany and Australia.

Spain has also entered the list of top 10 non-OIC countries, emerging as a key halal-friendly European destination for Muslim travelers this year.

The GMTI report ranks 130 Muslim-friendly tourism destinations globally. In defining the ranking, it assesses four key factors -- access, communication, the environment and service.

Mastercard-CrescentRating estimates that there were 140 million international Muslim visitors across the globe last year.

The Muslim travel market is one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the world, but despite its huge potential, remains relatively untapped.

By 2026, the halal travel sector’s contribution to the global economy is expected to jump 35 per cent to US$300 billion, up from US$220 billion in 2020.

By that time, Muslim visitors globally are forecast to grow to 230 million visitors, to represent more than 10 percent of tourists worldwide.  The number is projected to increase to 230 million by 2026, with an estimated US$300 billion being poured into the coffers of the global tourism industry.