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S'pore remains top destination for Muslim tourists outside OIC countries: survey

SINGAPORE retained its shine in the global Muslim travel market as the most popular non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destination for the fourth year running in the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI).

It beat out other non-OIC destinations such as the United Kingdom, Japan and Hong Kong, and tied with Qatar to be the sixth most popular destination overall.

"Singapore continues to appeal to Muslim travellers for its enhanced tourism offerings and cultural proximity while also providing for their needs comprehensively," Deborah Heng, country manager for Mastercard Singapore, said.

Malaysia retained pole position in the overall rankings, with Indonesia in joint second with the United Arab Emirates in the overall rankings. Turkey and Saudi Arabia followed.

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In the ranking of non-OIC countries, Thailand came in second after Singapore, followed by the UK. It was the first time in the top five among non-OIC countries for Japan and Taiwan, which were next in line.

"We are now starting to see the impact of investment and commitment by destinations across the world into the Muslim travel market which is reaping rewards including a real shift in the rankings," Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive of CrescentRating and HalalTrip, said.

In 2017, there were an estimated 131 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally - up from 121 million in 2016, said Mastercard and CrescentRating in their media statement. This is forecast to grow to 156 million visitors by 2020, representing 10 per cent of travellers globally.

Mastercard and CrescentRating's GMTI, which was launched in 2015, scored 130 destinations against a gamut of criteria, such as access which includes infrastructure and communications as well as environment and services.

CrescentRating is a Singapore-based rating and accreditation service for Muslim-friendly travel.