Brunei shines in services, environment in travel index

Azlan Othman

Brunei scored a perfect 100 in the services category (such as in airport and prayer places) as well as in environment (faith and safety), according to the Mastercard Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI 2021).

The Sultanate scored 72 in the category of access (transport infrastructure), 67 in environment category (enabling climate) and 55 in communication category (communications proficiency). Overall, Brunei ranked sixth place in the services category.

The services evaluated for destinations to provide a good service to Muslim travellers remains the same. As the service industry was disrupted in 2020, 2019 data is used in these metrics.

This year’s GMTI report ranked 140 destinations on how ready they are to attract the international Muslim travellers in the COVID-19 environment.

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

It is followed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. However, the destination which has made the most significant leap is Uzbekistan. During the last few years, it initiated several projects to capitalise on its very rich Islamic heritage to develop what it calls Ziyarah Tourism.

File photo of a scenic view in Bandar Seri Begawan. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

Singapore remains the only non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destination in the top 20 GMTI 2021 ranking.

Western Asia and North Africa are the highest-ranked regions in the GMTI 2021.

This is due to these two regions being mainly composed of predominantly Muslim majority destinations.

The leading destinations in North Africa are Egypt and Morocco. They are followed by Central Asia and Southeast Asia. Eastern Europe and South America are among the lowest ranked destinations in the GMTI 2021.

The Mastercard Crescent Rating Travel Readiness Report suggested three COVID-19 growth recovery paths facing ASEAN till 2022: positive, plausible, and pessimistic.

In addition, market projections on the size of the ASEAN travel market were also indicated in each recovery phase within the respective paths. The positive path was recovering to 94 per cent of the 2019 levels by mid-2021.

The plausible path was recovering to 71 per cent of 2019 levels by the middle of 2022. The pessimistic path was only recovering to 31 per cent by the end of 2022. Given that the pandemic has dragged along, these projections have been updated in this report, the plausible is now is the positive path.

The pessimistic path remains the same. The new plausible path is to recover to 80 per cent of 2019 levels by the middle of 2023.

Although this simulation is based on the ASEAN travel numbers, most other regions could also follow a similar trajectory.