Thailand has continued to see significant travel growth as the only country with three in the top 20 global destination cities, according to the seventh Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI), released today.
The index ranked Bangkok as the number one global destination city for international overnight visitors. It is the fifth time since 2012 – and the third consecutive year – the Thai capital has grabbed the top spot.
Phuket came 12 and Pattaya 18.
For the first time, Phuket broke into the top 10 destinations by dollars spent. This year the GDCI expanded from 132 cities in 2017 to 162 and it is the first year it has included Phuket and Pattaya.
With over 20 million international overnight visitors, Bangkok edged out London (with 19.8 million visitors), which ranked second for the second consecutive year. For Bangkok, the top three feeder countries remain China, Japan and South Korea.
Donald Ong, Mastercard's Thailand and Myanmar chief, 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 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.”