Indonesia and Malaysia shared the top position in the 2019 Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), which was released by Mastercard-CrescentRating recently.
Last year, Indonesia was placed second behind Malaysia. This year, they both scored 78 in the index.
There is no second position this year. Trailing behind is Turkey in third position, Saudi Arabia in fourth position and the United Arab Emirates in the fifth position.
CrescentRating CEO Fazal Bahardeen said in a press statement issued on Tuesday that Indonesia had invested a lot in infrastructure over the last few years to make its destinations friendly to Muslim travelers.
“In terms of basic infrastructure such as the availability of halal food and Muslim-friendly facilities, we see a lot of improvement. It also has better connectivity,” added Bahardeen, saying Indonesia had also invested in Muslim tourism and promoted itself through digital marketing.
He, however, stressed that Indonesia still had a lot of work to do to maintain its position and develop its Muslim-friendly tourism destinations.
“Indonesia still has a lot to do to promote its destinations. It has conducted general promotions, but it has to have a specific target for the Muslim market,” said Bahardeen.
The GMTI report ranks 130 Muslim traveler destinations globally. In defining the ranking, it assesses four key factors — access, communication, the environment, and service.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said Indonesia’s improved position was a result of policies implemented since 2015. Indonesia was placed sixth in 2015, fourth in 2016, third in 2017 and second last year. “It took five years to reach this position,” Arief added.
Mastercard-CrescentRating estimates that there were 140 million international Muslim visitors across the globe last year. 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.
The Tourism Ministry has set a target of 5 million foreign Muslim tourists this year, up from the 2.6 million who visited Indonesia last year. The ministry estimates that they would contribute 22 percent of its $17.6 billion total targets of foreign exchange from the tourism sector this year.
Originally published on www.thejakartapost.com