Thailand has continued to see significant growth in the travel sector, making it the only country with three in the top 20 global destination cities, according to the seventh annual Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI), released yesterday.
The Index ranked Bangkok as the number one global destination city for international overnight visitors. It is the fifth time in six years (since 2012) – and the third consecutive year – the Thai capital has grabbed the top spot. Phuket and Pattaya, both popular tourist destinations, also ranked in the global top 20 destination cities at number 12 and 18, respectively.
For the first time, Phuket broke into the top 10 destination cities by dollars spent. This year the GDCI expanded expanded from 132 cities (in 2017) to 162. It is the first year the global findings have included Phuket and Pattaya.
With over 20 million international overnight visitors, Bangkok edged out London (with 19.83 million visitors), which ranked second for the second consecutive year. For Bangkok, the top three feeder countries remain the same as 2017; China, Japan and South Korea.
Donald Ong, country manager for Thailand and Myanmar, Mastercard said, “The fact that Thailand is the only country to have three destinations in the top 20 underscores the importance of robust infrastructure, a good mix of business and leisure attractions, and the unique local culture that Thailand is renowned for. We recognise the efforts of government agencies, including the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), as important factors in maintaining above-average growth in the tourism sector.
Thailand has hosted a number of international events in the past year, while the Thai government has expanded visa exemptions for short-stay tourists and implemented special immigration checkpoints for Chinese tourists. These factors, paired with the fact that Bangkok is seen as more affordable than other major cities including Paris, Singapore and Seoul, are major factors contributing to Bangkok’s continued success as the number one destination city worldwide. We are also particularly delighted to see Phuket join Bangkok in the top 10 destination cities by dollars spent.”
The annual growth of international overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities was up across the broad in 2017, except for Seoul which saw a dip. The forecast for 2018 indicates across-the-board growth, with Istanbul expecting the largest uptick in visitors.
“International travel is crucial to many urban economies, enriching the lives of both residents and tourists. The bar is rising for cities to innovate to provide both a memorable and authentic experience,” said Miguel Gamio Jr, executive vice president, global cities for Mastercard.