Singapore's popularity among Muslim travellers expected to dip after 2020: Study

A brochure on Okinawa City and the entire Okinawa prefecture in Japan, which have been gaining popularity for their ability to cater to Muslim travellers and the destination is steadily becoming a famed holiday spot among the Muslim tourists around t
A brochure on Okinawa City and the entire Okinawa prefecture in Japan, which have been gaining popularity for their ability to cater to Muslim travellers and the destination is steadily becoming a famed holiday spot among the Muslim tourists around the world. PHOTO: JAPAN TOURISM BOARD

SINGAPORE - For the next five years, Singapore is expected to be the third most attractive destination for Muslim travellers during the fasting month of Ramadan, after Malaysia and Indonesia, a study released on Friday (June 17) has found.

But the Republic's popularity is likely to dip after the year 2020, as Middle Eastern destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman catch up, the inaugural Ramadan Travel Report 2016 predicted.

Singapore's consistent daytime temperatures and fasting duration - about 12 hours a day - makes it popular among Muslim travellers, alongside other destinations near the equator such as Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

But this advantage may not last, the study noted.

Ramadan is set to take place earlier in the year over the next 15 years, as it is based on the Islamic calendar which has a 12-month cycle revolving around 355 days. This means that every year, the fasting month advances by about 10 days. By 2023, Ramadan will fall during the cooler months in Middle Eastern countries, increasing these destinations' appeal to travellers, the study noted.

"With Ramadan set to take place in cooler months from 2023, destinations in the Middle East... will become an attractive proposition for Muslim travellers, replacing Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore in the top few spots," said the study, developed by payment firm MasterCard and Muslim travel consultancy CrescentRating.

Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia could also benefit from this trend, it added.

In 2030, Malaysia is the only South-east Asian country expected to retain a spot among the top five, due to its strong Muslim-friendly environment.

To maintain their popularity, South-east Asian countries should introduce more Muslim-friendly services such as having more halal food outlets and facilities to perform prayers, the study said.

A total of 50 destinations across the globe were analysed in the study and benchmarked across three criteria over the next 15 years until 2030. The criteria are average daytime temperature, fasting duration and scores on the Global Muslim Travel Index 2016, a separate study that ranked 130 destinations based on their Muslim-friendliness.

The study has named Singapore as the friendliest destination for Muslim travellers among non-Muslim countries for the past four years.