S'pore popular with Muslim holidaymakers

S'pore popular with Muslim holidaymakers

Singapore has been named the friendliest destination for Muslim travellers among non-Muslim countries for the third year in a row, according to a study released yesterday.

The country received high scores for its safety, ease of access to prayer spaces and number of halal dining options.

Such positive feedback allowed Singapore to beat the likes of Thailand, South Africa and Hong Kong in the Global Muslim Travel Index.

It is ninth on the overall list, which ranked 100 destinations based on nine criteria, such as family friendliness and accommodation.

The top five spots were filled by members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Malaysia took the top spot, followed by Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Countries are increasingly keen to woo Muslim travellers, who numbered 108 million last year and spent $145 billion. This represents 10 per cent of the global travel economy.

By 2020, the number is expected to reach 150 million, with a market value of $200 billion.

The typical Muslim consumer is younger, educated and with a larger disposable income, resulting in an increased propensity to travel, said the study developed by payment firm MasterCard and Muslim travel consultancy CrescentRating.

Singapore is well placed to draw these travellers. Last year, it welcomed 3.2 million Muslim visitors, who made up 21 per cent of total arrivals.

Most of them are from Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, and more can be done to attract Muslims from the Gulf states and Europe, said Mr Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive of CrescentRating and travel website HalalTrip.

Chan Brothers Travel agency said its Muslim customers tend to travel in larger groups and spend, on average, not more than five days visiting key attractions in Singapore.

Architect Mahreen Mahmud, 29, a Bangladeshi Muslim living in Melbourne, said she found Singapore "an amazing tourist destination".

"I love that there is halal food available everywhere, at any time of the day, and people are respectful towards everyone," she said.

mellinjm@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 5, 2015.
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