SA is Africa’s most Muslim-friendly destination

South Africa is ranked as one of the 10 most Muslim-friendly travel destinations among non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, according to the annual Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018. It is ranked seventh among non-OIC countries. 

The Mastercard-CrescentRating GMTI is an insights-driven data study of the Halal travel market which looks at 130 destinations. It confirms that the Muslim travel market is on course to continue its fast-paced growth to reach US$220bn in 2020. It is expected to hit US$300bn by 2026. In 2017, there were an estimated 131 Muslim visitor arrivals globally, up from 121 million in 2016. This is forecasted to grow to 156 million visitors by 2020, representing 10% of the travel segment.

Key metric criteria in the 2018 CrescentRating Index included access to infrastructure; communications and how destinations market themselves to this target audience; the environment; and services.

Malaysia retained top spot in the overall rankings, while Indonesia moved up to joint-second with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Singapore retained pole position for the non-OIC destination markets. 
Despite its status as Africa’s leading non-OIC destination for Muslim travellers, South Africa’s slight drop in the rankings indicates that local tourism companies and authorities cannot afford to be complacent in the face of competition from other countries for this valuable market – especially from markets across Africa that are becoming as attractive to this audience.
“South African tourism was dealt a blow by the drought in the Western Cape, which together with a stronger rand towards the end of the year, contributed to slow growth in visitor arrivals in 2017. These factors likely also affected Muslim visitor arrivals as much as they did other travel segments. There are opportunities for cities across South Africa to appeal to this discerning audience given the diverse experiences available to both business and leisure travellers,” say Mark Elliott, Division President, Southern Africa, Mastercard.