Qatar remains fifth most popular OIC travel destination for Muslims

Qatar has stayed the fifth most popular OIC travel destination for Muslims. | Courtesy of Shutterstock
Qatar has maintained its position as the fifth most popular destination globally in the Muslim travel market, according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016.

The GMTI, which spans 130 destinations, lists Malaysia as the most popular spot, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey and Indonesia ahead of Qatar on the list of top-five organization of Islamic cooperation (OIC) destinations.

"Many already successful destinations around the world are looking to diversify their visitor base to maintain tourist growth rates in today's increasingly competitive travel market, and the GCC is at the forefront of understanding the needs and preferences of Muslim travelers and how to adapt and tailor products and services for them," Raghav Prasad, general manager of Gulf countries for MasterCard, said. "The Muslim travel market is flourishing in each of the GCC states, and these high rankings are further testament to the continuous growth and development of this sector in these countries. We believe that the GMTI provides real value to businesses and governments looking to tap into this important market segment further."

Singapore remains in the top spot for non-OIC destinations, with Thailand, the U.K., South Africa and Hong Kong rounding out the rest of the top five.

The study also revealed that in 2015, an estimated 117 million Muslims visited Qatar, representing close to 10 percent of the entire travel market. This is expected to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020.

Asia and Europe were also revealed as the two global regions for Muslim travel, accounting for 87 percent of the market.

"The MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2016 has now become the number-one tool for destinations around the world to realign their strategies to reach out to the Muslim consumer," Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating and HalalTrip, said. "One of the biggest trends we are seeing is non-OIC destinations making a concerted effort to attract the Muslim tourist, and they now represent over 63 percent of the destinations covered in the GMTI. For example, Japan and Philippines have taken some major steps over the last few months to diversify their visitor arrivals and boost their economy in the process."

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