Bangkok, projected to welcome 21.47 million international overnight visitors in 2016, is now the world's top-ranked destination city.
According to the annual Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index released today, the Thai capital edges out second-ranked London which should welcome 19.88 million visitors this year.
Tourism has been one of the rare bright spots for Thailand, which has grappled with weak consumer confidence and exports.
Bangkok won the "World's Best City Award 2013" organised by Travel and Leisure magazine for the fourth consecutive year.
The Mastercard Index provides more than a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world. It projects visitor volume and spend estimates for the 2016 calendar year, while delivering a deeper understanding of how people travel and spend around the world. As cross-border travel and spending continue to grow at a faster pace than the world GDP, the world’s cities continue to be engines of broader economic growth.
Forecasted international overnight visitors to the rest of the top 10 cities include:
London – 19.88 million visitors
Paris – 18.03 million visitors
Dubai – 15.27 million visitors
New York – 12.75 million visitors
Singapore – 12.11 million visitors
Kuala Lumpur – 12.02 million visitors
Istanbul – 11.95 million visitors
Tokyo – 11.70 million visitors
Seoul – 10.20 million visitors
The biggest surprise in this year’s Index is Dubai’s jump to the top rank based on international visitor spending of US$31.3 billion, far exceeding the second ranked London estimated at US$19.8 billion.
“The way people travel and spend across borders indicates just how interconnected and important the world’s cities are,” said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, Mastercard. “As the planning and experience of the trip become increasingly important, Mastercard is bringing all these pieces together seamlessly through innovation and connections.”
The difference between the global top 10 and the fastest growing top 10 destination cities suggests that Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa have become increasingly important to the global economic landscape. Many cities measured on the Index have increasing growth trajectories, indicating the growing interest in both visiting and living in cities.
Osaka has shown the strongest growth in international visitors (24.15 percent) over the last seven years.
Other cities that made the forecasted top 10 fastest growing cities include:
Chengdu – 20.14 percent
Abu Dhabi – 19.81 percent
Colombo – 19.57 percent
Tokyo – 18.48 percent
Riyadh – 16.45 percent
Taipei – 14.53 percent
Xi’an – 14.20 percent
Tehran – 12.98 percent
Xiamen – 12.93 percent