Mastercard-Crescent rating agency put Indonesia at first place, based upon GMTI standards with a score of 78, along with Malaysia in the upper rankings, Crescent Rating CEO Fazal Bahardeen said, while delivering a GMTI Report 2019 in Jakarta in April.
"After joining GMTI this year, Indonesia should be proud, because it was finally able to rank first in the world's halal tourism, along with Malaysia, with a total score of 78," Fazal Bahardeen stated.
In addition to Indonesia, other countries included in the the 10 best halal tourist destinations are Malaysia, also with a score of 78, Turkey (75), Saudi Arabia (72), United Arab Emirates (71), Qatar (68), Morocco (67), Bahrain (66), Oman (66), and Brunei Darussalam (65).
In defining the ranking, it evaluated four factors -- access, communications, the environment and service.
Indonesia’s priority halal tourist destinations in 2018 included Aceh, Riau, Riau Islands, West Sumatra, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, West Nusa Tenggara and South Sulawesi Provinces.
This year, the country added six districts and cities as priority halal tourism destinations, including Tanjung Pinang, Pekanbaru, Bandung Municipality, Bandung District, West Bandung, and Cianjur.
Lauding the success, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya expressed his optimism that this achievement will spur other tourist destinations in Indonesia. He encouraged other regions to immediately develop halal tourism, which is very feasible in the worlds’ largest Muslim nation.
"Eventually, when we dreamed of Indonesia becoming the world's best halal tourist destination has come true. This proves that we must make a plan to achieve victory," he said.
With Indonesia ranking first as a halal tourist destination, the minister expressed hope that more foreign tourists will visit Indonesia. Indonesia has targeted attracting 20 million tourists this year, of which five million will travel to the country as a halal tourism destination.
Director of Mastercard Indonesia Tommy Singgih said the halal tourism market is one of the tourism segments which recorded the fastest growth in the world. Halal tourism's contribution to the global economy is projected to jump 35 percent to 300 billion US dollar in 2020, from 220 billion US dollar in 2016.
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) also lauded Indonesia’s achievement. "According to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2019, Indonesia's halal tourism wins the first rank. This is an excellent achievement. It was just announced," Jokowi said, while inaugurating a Halal park located in Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) stadium complex, Jakarta, recently. The Halal park offers halal food, beverage and other items.
Indonesia’s halal tourism growth is projected to reach an all-time high of some 42 percent this year. To achieve this target, the ministry will use the Indonesia Muslim Travel Index (IMTI) as a work standard to develop the country`s halal tourism industry.
"In total, nearly 90 percent is service components and 10 percent is halal components. We strive to increase all the components through IMTI," the Tourism Minister said.
The Tourism Ministry organized a Workshop on Certificates in Halal Tourism Sector’s Training and Accreditation in Jakarta on May 17-18, 2019.
As the world's largest Muslim majority country, Indonesia has a lot to offer to foreign, as well as domestic Muslim travelers.
The tourism ministry is developing halal tourism in various provinces, and is particularly targeting Middle Eastern tourists, a sector that has so far remained untapped.
According to data, tourists from the Middle East account for some 140 million annual trips, mostly to Europe.
As for Southeast Asia, Middle Eastern tourists prefer to travel to Malaysia and Thailand, rather than Indonesia.
Lombok, one of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB)'s main islands, was judged the best halal tourism and honeymoon destination during the World Halal Travel Awards 2015, held in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, in conjunction with World Halal Travel Summit 2015.