If this index says anything it's that Muslim travelers are most comfortable traveling and spending on shopping in countries in Asia and where Muslims hold the majority of the population.
Much of the global Muslim population comes from some of the world’s faster growing economies primed for churning out more travelers with higher disposable incomes.
That’s the view of MasterCard and CrescentRating’s new 2015 index on Muslim travel shopping released this week, which reports Muslim travelers spent $62 billion on shopping and dining last year.
Singapore, partly for its abundance of halal dining options, and Dubai, are ranked as the top cities for Muslim travelers to visit. Half of the top 10 on the non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries list (those without predominant Muslim populations) are in Asia.
The Muslim travel market was worth $145 billion last year, with 108 million Muslim travelers representing 10% of the global travel economy, according to the two companies. The index forecasts these numbers will grow to 150 million travelers by 2020, accounting for 11% of the global travel economy and spending nearly $200 billion per year.
The Index evaluated 40 cities in countries including both members and non-members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The top criteria for the index were total overall shopping expenditure a city had then the total Muslim spending expenditure subset, followed by factors such as halal dining options, access to prayer spaces, accommodation options and visa requirements.
Chart 1: Dubai, with its allure as an aviation hub and crossroads of Asia, ranks first as the best shopping destination in Organization of Islamic Cooperation member countries in Asia.
Chart 2: Singapore ranks as the top non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation member country for Muslim shopping destinations. Singapore also ranked first last year in MasterCard and CrescentRating’s first ranking of top Muslim destinations that wasn’t specific to shopping. Singapore also has the highest Muslim shopping expenditure of all 40 cities considered for the index and the highest for a non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation country.
Chart 3: The top 10 destinations for both sets of countries account for nearly 25% of Muslims’ total travel spending, and the amount spent on shopping in these destinations is also one-third of total Muslim shopping spending and the dining spend is about 25% of total dining spend for all Muslim markets.
Chart 4: The survey found souvenirs and local clothing brands are the top purchases Muslim travelers make during their trips. Depending on the destination, there is also strong interest to purchase Islamic clothing and accessories, followed by perfumes and cosmetics as well as branded clothing.
Chart 5: Some 27% of Muslim travelers plan on spending between $250 and $500 during a trip while 24% say they typically budget $500 to $1000.
Source: MasterCard and CrescentRating
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Photo credit: Singapore and Dubai are MasterCard and CresentRatings' picks for top shopping destinations Muslim travelers should visit. Pictured, a Muslim couple in front of the fountain of the main square of Istanbul. Moyan Brenn / Flickr.com