27 October 17 The Straits Times by CHEOW SUE-ANN
Singapore is the sixth most popular travel destination for Muslim millennials, according to findings of a study released yesterday.
The study polled some 400 young Muslims - aged 18 to 36 - from Africa, the Americas, the Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East to understand their travel patterns.
Malaysia is the top destination for these travellers. The other countries in the top 10 are Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, the United States and India.
With approximately one billion Muslims under the age of 30 representing 60 per cent of the population in Muslim-majority countries, the younger Muslim population has been identified as a key driver of growth in the Muslim travel market.
Outside of the millennial group, Singapore places 10th globally in terms of overall rankings across all demographics. It was ranked eighth a year ago, according to the Mastercard-CrescentRating annual Global Muslim Travel Index 2017.
The study found that Muslim travellers prefer countries where they can access facilities such as halal food outlets and spaces to conduct their religious routines.
It also said that the Muslim millennial travel market will be worth US$100 billion (S$136 billion) by 2025, and the overall Muslim travel market will be worth US$300 billion by 2026.
Mastercard South-east Asia's vice-president Aisha Islam said that the uniform system to certify items as halal in Singapore "makes the travel experience much easier" for Muslim millennials.
"As a Muslim traveller myself, I can walk into an establishment and, from the signs, see whether or not its practices are halal," Ms Islam said.
"The uniform (system) also ensures that the (halal) ratings are consistent and reliable."
She added that Singapore has the infrastructure to support these travellers' faith-based needs and noted that the country is accepting of Muslims.
Another reason for Singapore's popularity is that many Muslim millennials would stop by the country while on their way to Thailand or Indonesia.
Singapore could be placed higher, said Mr Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive officer of HalalTrip, a Singapore firm.
"Millennial travellers are looking for authentic cultural experiences. Singapore is more known for its shopping and dining, and not many are aware of its cultural experiences," said Mr Fazal.
Mr Fazal added that countries like Japan and South Korea are "stepping up their welcome to Muslim travellers in many ways, including releasing halal food guidebooks and increasing the number of halal-certified restaurants".