Key trends shaping travel during Ramadan and why brands should take note

According to new research released today by MasterCard and CrescentRating, many destinations will see an impact on visitor arrivals, given the growth in the number of Muslims travelling during the fasting period.

With Ramadan set to occur from June to February during the next 15 years, different regions across the world will become attractive destinations for Muslim travellers according to the inaugural MasterCard-CrescentRating Ramadan Travel Report 2016.

The study analysed a total of 50 destinations, over the next 15 years until 2030 and bench-marked across 3 criteria: average daytime temperature, fasting duration, and Global Muslim Travel Index 2016 scores. It was created to provide destinations and businesses in the tourism industry long-term strategies in catering and attracting Muslim travellers during Ramadan.

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From now until 2020, Malaysia is ranked as the top destination in the list, followed by Indonesia, and then Singapore. Malaysia’s climate and marketing strategies were some of the reasons for its #1 ranking.

Destinations in the Middle East such as UAE, Qatar, and Oman will become attractive destinations for Muslim travellers as Ramadan sets place in cooler months from 2023. Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia could also benefit from this trend. And as this trend benefits some countries, non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries and Southeast Asia will see visitor arrivals dropping from 2030.

CEO of CrescentRating & HalalTrip, Fazal Bahardeen said:

Ramadan travel has been largely ignored by the industry despite the growing trend in the last few years.

“However, the report has revealed some very interesting insights especially for countries in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Muslims travelling in Ramadan is becoming a reality and one which can benefit countries, through strategic destination marketing and planning by the tourism authorities.”

Safdar Khan, group country manager, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei; Group Head, Islamic Payments, Southeast Asia, MasterCard said, “As one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world, the Muslim travel market brings tremendous opportunities. An increasing number of governments are boosting their efforts to attract more Muslim visitors to their countries."

"With travel during Ramadan also expected to grow in the next decade, the new MasterCard-CrescentRating Ramadan Travel Report will be valuable to businesses and governments in helping them gain a better understanding of the unique needs and preferences of Muslim travellers and how they can adapt or tailor products and services for them during the holy month.”

Six key contributing reasons have been identified in the report resulting in the increasing number of Muslims travelling during Ramadan: the growing number of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, business travel, spending Ramadan with family, experiencing Ramadan in a different environment and culture, celebrating Eid with family and extreme weather conditions or duration of fasting.

The report also takes into account the special place that Makkah and Medina (Saudi Arabia) hold as the top destinations from a religious perspective, not among the criteria. As such, the Kingdom is excluded from the ranking and has been addressed separately on how Ramadan travel can help boost efforts towards achieving Vision 2030.

The MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index 2016 revealed that in 2015 there were an estimated 117 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally, representing close to 10% of the entire travel market.

This is expected to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 the equivalent of 11% of the market segment with a market value projected to exceed US$200 billion. Malaysia topped the list for the second year running while the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Indonesia and Qatar rounded off the top five OIC countries.