Taipei, March 24 (CNA) Taiwan has been ranked as the seventh-most popular non-Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destination in the global Muslim travel market, according to MasterCard research focusing on this fast-growing sector.
In the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016, which covers 130 destinations worldwide, Taiwan's ranking among non-OIC destinations climbed three notches from last year, putting it behind Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Hong Kong and France.
Japan, Sri Lanka and the United States were also among the top-10 non-OIC destinations in the GMTI 2016, which saw Malaysia keep its No. 1 position on the list of OIC destinations.
Notably, the high scores Taiwan received in many GMTI sub-indexes got it to top the non-OIC destinations in terms of travel safety, and put it in 3th place for airport services, according to the GMTI 2016 report.
The study also indicates that in 2015, there were an estimated 117 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally, representing close to 10 percent of the entire travel market, said a report on the 2016 rating on the CrescentRating website.
It is forecast that Muslim visitor arrivals will grow to 168 million by 2020, representing 11 percent of the market, with a market value projected to exceed US$200 billion, the report said.
The GMTI 2016, touted as the most comprehensive report on the Halal/Muslim travel industry, was published in Jakarta, Indonesia Wednesday.
All 130 destinations in the GMTI were scored against a backdrop of criteria that included suitability as a family holiday destination, the level of services and facilities it provides, accommodation options, and marketing initiatives, as well as visitor arrivals, according to the report.
The average index score of all the 130 rated destinations stood at 43.7, with Taiwan given 50.1, putting it in 33rd place globally.
Malaysia had an index score of 81.9, followed by United Arab Emirates at 74.7 and Turkey at 73.9. In comparison, Singapore had the highest score among non-OIC destinations at 68.4, followed by Thailand at 59.5.
"Taiwan and Japan have continued to improve their overall rankings, and the average GMTI scores by region show Asia as the leading region," the report said.
MasterCard said the study shows that Taiwan's efforts to improve its services for Muslim travelers over the years, such as increasing prayer space and Halal dining options, have made it a benchmark city in the Muslim travel market.
(By Tsai Yi-chu and Elizabeth Hsu)