YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, expressed her appreciation and gratitude to all industry players for their continued efforts in making Malaysia the top destination of choice in Muslim-friendly travel

PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA, 14 JULY 2021: Malaysia has once again topped the list of best Muslim-friendly holiday destinations for Muslim travellers, according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2021, launched during the inaugural Halal in Travel Global Summit 2021.

YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture Malaysia, expressed her appreciation and gratitude to all industry players for their continued efforts in making Malaysia the top destination of choice in Muslim-friendly travel. She said in her keynote address at the summit: “Alhamdulillah, all praises to Allah. It gives me great pleasure to learn that Malaysia is placed atop the GMTI for 2021, a position it has defended ever since the GMTI was first released back in 2015. It is the collective effort of all industry players that we have achieved this recognition.”

The GMTI 2021 report stated that although the pandemic had ravaged the tourism sector, some destinations were ready to be activated in anticipation of borders reopening. These destinations had a strong foundation in Muslim-friendly facilities and services, and had continued their stakeholder awareness, capacity building, and destination marketing to the Muslim outbound markets even during the pandemic. 

It stated that Malaysia remained the top-ranked destination in the GMTI 2021 as it had been since the launch of the Index in 2015.

Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy acknowledged that this achievement springs from the fruits of Malaysia’s continued and steadfast commitment towards developing the Muslim-friendly travel, a model that is becoming more and more significant in the global market.

“Malaysia is a melting pot of different races, cultures and demographics, all living together harmoniously under one roof. This attribute makes Malaysia a standout offering of unique Asian experience.”

Redang Island is one of the popular family-friendly tourist destinations on the east coast of Terengganu that have attracted many Muslim tourists from all over the world with its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters (Picture courtesy of Tourism Malaysia)

“Halal in travel is an essential for Muslim travellers and is part and parcel of Islamic Tourism. Malaysia, being a Muslim majority nation, has many Halal offerings whilst featuring many tourism packages that are compliant with Islamic principles – these are the foundation of a successful Islamic Tourism model destination,” she opined.

She took the opportunity to call upon tourism industry players to ready themselves for tourism beyond COVID-19. “Moving forward, it’s important that we leverage on this achievement to further improve ourselves and explore more opportunities to prepare Malaysia for the reopening of travel and the recovery of Muslim tourists to our destination,” she said.

She further elaborated that her ministry, via its agency Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) would continue striving towards developing better understanding of the post-COVID-19 requirements of the Muslim tourist market, and enhance the facilities, products, and services that are needed.

It is here that ITC’s key roles in Islamic Tourism research and training are important. Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy noted: “In the field of research, ITC has shared knowledge through its symposiums, and encouraged innovative ideas and expanded the potential of the Muslim-friendly Tourism and Hospitality space through a focus on research. I urge industry players to learn and apply this knowledge to serve the needs of the market better.”

The Minister also noted ITC’s contribution as “a crucial bridge connecting Malaysia’s culture, arts, heritage, and other commercial attractions with the Islamic Tourism and Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality concept.” The development of the Muslim-Friendly Tour Guide course for licensed tour guides and its advocacy for Malaysia’s cuisines and heritage attractions as a major draw to attract Muslim tourists are some of the efforts made by ITC to improve the product and service offerings of Malaysia to Muslim tourists.

The Minister also emphasised the importance of standards and certification as a means to promote trust and branding. “Initiatives such as ITC’s Muslim-friendly Accommodation Recogntion (MFAR) gives assurance to Muslim hotel guests. This effort enables Muslim tourists to easily identify accommodations that cater to their needs such as availability of Halal food and provision of prayer facilities. It also serves as a marketing and branding tool for the hotels to give assurance to their Muslim clientele,” she said.

Among its global network, ITC is considered a leading authority on Muslim-friendy tourism, being widely recognised by member states of the Organisation of Islamic Corporation (OIC). This is evident in ITC’s collaborations with OIC via the latter’s key agencies, such as the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) and the Standing Committee Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the OIC, where ITC has delivered training and consultancy sessions on MFTH for its fellow OIC member states.

ITC is also widely recognised abroad for its contribution towards establishing guidelines and standards for Muslim-Friendly tourism services, the Minister said. “In this regard, ITC is the project coordinator for the Indonesia–Malaysia–Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Tourism Working Group for Muslim-friendly Tourism Development and has been nominated to be the lead coordinator for the development of Halal Spa at the OIC-SMIIC (Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries) level.”

With Malaysia situated in the ASEAN region, she also expressed hope the region would continue and sustain itself as a Muslim-friendly one. “Muslim travellers exhibit two main attributes, an inclination to spend more and higher tendency for longer stays. They want a worry-free experience where their religious needs are met whilst enjoying the pleasures of destinations they travel to. Thus, all of us, in ASEAN, have so much to gain from the many potentials that the Islamic Tourism and Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality segments have to offer,” she said.

About the GMTI 2021

The GMTI 2021 was launched during the second day of the Halal In Travel Global Summit (HITGS) 2021 on 14 July 2021. HITGS 2021 is an online forum organised by CrescentRating, a Singapore-based research entity on Halal travel whilst the GMTI itself is the joint effort of CrescentRating and MasterCard.

Since 2015, the GMTI report monitors the overall performance of the Muslim travel market, besides being the first most comprehensive research that has ever been released. It demonstrates how Muslim travel impacts the worldwide travel market via in-depth data and intelligence. 

The GMTI 2021 report ranks 140 destinations on how ready they are to attract the Muslim travel market in the COVID-19 environment. The metrics used in the evaluation is based on the CrescentRating ACES model which looks at four key factors to enable destinations to attract more Muslim travellers, i.e. ease of access to the destination, internal and external communication by the destination, environment at the destination, and services provided by the destination.

It states that although the pandemic has ravaged the tourism sector, when it comes to Muslim friendly facilities and services, the foundations that destinations have been putting in place for a number of years remain ready to be activated as travel reopens. 

The report notes that some destinations have continued driving stakeholder awareness, capacity building, and destination marketing to the Muslim outbound markets even during the pandemic. 

Malaysia remains the top-ranked destination in the GMTI 2021 as it has been since the launch of the Index in 2015.


Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) is an entity under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia tasked to develop the Islamic tourism (IT) segment for Malaysia. It advocates for Muslim-friendly tourism (MFT) by offering research and market intelligence, training, industry development consultation, Muslim-friendly tourism and hospitality (MFTH) services standards and certification, and information exchange.

In 2021, ITC was named the recipient of the Strategic Business Alliance Award at The BrandLaureate World Halal Best Brand E-Branding Awards 2021. It is a recognition of ITC’s efforts and endeavours in formulating new strategies to meet the new normal of the business environment to ensure business continuity and sustainability, notwithstanding its role to develop and grow the IT segment in Malaysia.

In addition, Malaysia was named top country in the region in the MFT sector by the State of the Global Islamic Economy (SGIE) Report 2020/21. 

Both recognitions are added motivation for ITC to continue to strengthen its efforts in being a prime mover and leading institution to ensure Malaysia is at the forefront of MFTH.

For further details, kindly contact:

Islamic Tourism Centre,
Level 13, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia
No. 2 Tower 1, Jalan P5/6,
Precinct 5, 62200 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Tel: 03-8891 7177 or via email

Follow ITC on these social platforms:
Facebook: Islamic Tourism Centre
Twitter: @itc_my
Instagram: @itc_my
YouTube: Islamic Tourism Centre

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