Thailand ready to tap busy Muslim travel market

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Muslim visitors take a picture at Samila beach in Songkhla province. 
Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Halal tourism is one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors, with faith-based needs and behaviour from Islamic travellers gaining, according to the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2019, an annual survey by Mastercard and CrescentRating.

In its fifth edition, the GMTI revealed robust growth in the market and named Thailand as a friendly country for Muslim travellers.

The Muslim travel market is expected to reach US$220 billion by 2020 with 160 million tourists, rising 36% to $300 billion with 230 million travellers in 2026.

The GMTI 2019 shows that Thailand ranked second among the top 10 preferred destinations for Muslim travel among countries outside of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with a score of 57, behind Singapore with 65. Thailand also ranked 18th out of 130 destinations for Muslims worldwide.

The GMTI report uses criteria from the CrescentRating ACES model to consider four key measurements: services, environment, communications and access to evaluating each destination.

The report provides market insights for tourism operators to understand and prepare for the needs of Muslims tourists, such as prayer facilities, washroom facilities, gender-based recreational facilities and services with privacy, as well as halal food.

By the same token, halal travellers can ensure that the destination for their next trip is Muslim-friendly.

The top 10 non-OIC destinations also included Japan, Taiwan, South Africa and South Korea, which continued their upward movement, indicating that these destinations are becoming friendlier for Muslim tourists, the report said.

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