Asia Pacific is an increasingly popular region for travel, according to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index (GDCI) 2017.

The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities in 2016, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2017.

Asia Pacific destinations made up five of the top 10 in the annual survey which ranks the world’s 132 top destination cities – with Bangkok in Thailand taking out first place.

“It is easy to see why Bangkok has topped the Global Destinations Cities Index as a great place to travel. For New Zealanders it is a close, cost-effective and exciting destination. Lots of Kiwis are making the most of the close proximity of Southeast Asia to enjoy fantastic cuisine, scenery and warmer weather,” says Peter Chisnall, Mastercard Country Manager for New Zealand and Pacific Islands.

Asia Pacific had the highest amount of international overnight visitor spending among its top 10 cities bringing in $91.16 billion USD in travel expenditure in 2016. Following Asia Pacific was Europe ($74.74 billion USD), and North America ($55.02 billion USD).

“The amount of international visitor spend in the Asia Pacific indicates how much the popularity of this region is growing. Five cities in the top 10 are in the Asia Pacific, showing just how many world class options are in this area for travelers.  Places like Thailand are great for cost-effective travel, but also desirable for those wanting a luxury getaway,” adds Chisnall.

International overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities were up in 2016

According to the Index, Bangkok had 19.41 million visitors, while London came in second with 19.06 million visitors. Paris (15.45 million visitors), Dubai (14.87 million visitors) and Singapore (13.11 million visitors) rounded out the top five visited cities.

Home to half of the world’s top ten most visited cities, Asia Pacific’s success as a global travel hub has been supported by strong regional travel, with both Singapore and Seoul tracking significant growth.

“Looking at the index we can see that the top Asia-Pacific destinations have been helped by tourists from neighboring countries – particularly China. There are also more flights than ever before heading to the region, and once you are there neighbouring cities are close to explore,” says Chisnall.

Forecasts for continued growth in 2017 are positive except for New York, with Tokyo expecting the largest increase of international visitors.

 Destination2016 International Overnight VisitorsForecast for 20172016 Visitor Spend (US$ bn)
1Bangkok19.41 million visitors4.0 percent$14.1
2London19.06 million visitors5.0 percent$16.1
3Paris15.45 million visitors4.4 percent$12.0
4Dubai14.87 million visitors7.7 percent$28.5
5Singapore13.11 million visitors2.6 percent$15.7
6New York12.70 million visitors(-2.4 percent)$17.0
7Seoul12.39 million visitors0.4 percent$9.4
8Kuala Lumpur11.28 million visitors7.2 percent$7.2
9Tokyo11.15 million visitors12.2 percent$11.3
10Istanbul9.16 million visitors0.9 percent$5.8

 

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities.