Ireland is considered to be one of the least friendly places for Muslims to visit, according to the Global Muslim Travel Index, which has just been published.
The report evaluates countries in terms of their attentiveness to the needs of Muslim travellers, including the presence and accessibility of “halal” restaurants with food prepared to Islamic standards, and the provision of prayer rooms at airports, shopping centres and hotels.
The index compiled by travel firm CrescentRating and MasterCard suggests that Mexico is the least Muslim-friendly country in a list of 25 countries where Islam is not the predominant religion with Ireland finishing in second-last place.
The top three non-Muslim countries were Singapore, Bosnia and Thailand. The United Kingdom finished in sixth place, while the US was said to be the 14th most welcoming countries for Muslims.
Muslim tourists are one of the fastest growing travel groups and last year, 108 million Muslim travelers spent €130 billion, equivalent to 10 per cent of global travel spending. By 2020, this amount is expected to rise to €180 billion.
Key factors in people from the global muslim community making travel decisions are restaurants serving food that is halal, or permissible under Islamic law, as well as readily accessible mosques or prayer rooms.
According to the report’s authors, they are also conscious of safety with rising anti-Muslim sentiment in some Western countries and an increase in Islamist militant attacks are worrying.
“The halal lifestyle is a key component of the global travel industry,” Fazal Bahardeen, CrescentRating’s chief executive said. “More so, because destinations are trying very hard to diversify their tourists.”
When it comes to travel within Muslim regions, Malaysia is the most preferred global destination. Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Indonesia followed Malaysia in choice holiday destinations.