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Bangkok remains in the top spot in Mastercard’s 2018 Global Destination Cities Index

Visitors tend to stay in Bangkok 4.7 nights and spend $173 per day on average, but Dubai attracts more big spenders with a whopping $537 daily treat

Olivier Languepin

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With roughly 20 million international overnight visitors, Bangkok remains in the top spot this year.

Thailand’s capital is unlikely to be bested due to a strong projected growth of 9.6 percent for 2018.

Interestingly, visitors tend to stay in Bangkok 4.7 nights and spend $173 per day, on average.

This year’s top cities are Bangkok, London and Paris, once again underscoring the importance of robust infrastructure, both business and leisure attractions and strong local culture.

The Global Top 10 Destination Cities
2017 International Overnight VisitorsGrowth Forecast for 2018Average Length of StayAverage Spend Per Day
Bangkok20.05 million9.6%4.7 nights$173
London19.83 million3.0%5.8 nights$153
Paris17.44 million2.9%2.5 nights$301
Dubai15.79 million5.5%3.5 nights$537
Singapore13.91 million4.0%4.3 nights$286
New York13.13 million4.1%8.3 nights$147
Kuala Lumpur12.58 million7.5%5.5 nights$124
Tokyo11.93 million1.6%6.5 nights$154
Istanbul10.70 million19.7%5.8 nights$108
Seoul9.54 million6.1%4.2 nights$181

The Mastercard Index, which expanded this year to look at global 162 cities, is not simply a ranking of the top travel destinations.

Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2017 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a growth forecast for 2018 and—for the first time—a view into average length of stay and amount spent per day.

With the global economy buzzing, the annual growth of international overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities was up in 2017 except for Seoul, which saw a dip.

537 dollars per day in Dubai

Dubai continues to be the top ranking destination city based on overnight visitor spend, with visitors spending a whopping $537 per day on average. It is joined in the Top 10 with newcomers Makkah, Saudi Arabia, which debuts in the number two spot, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Phuket, Thailand.

Of the most visited cities, Istanbul comes in with the lowest spend per day at just $108 on average.

Thailand is the only country to have two cities (Bangkok and Phuket) listed in the Top 10 cities by dollars spent.

Top Cities by Dollars Spent
2017 International Overnight Visitor Spend (USD)Forecast for 2018Average Spend by Day
Dubai$29.70 billion7.8%$537
Makkah$18.45 billion7.4%$135
London$17.45 billion13.7%$153
Singapore$17.02 billion7.4%$286
Bangkok$16.36 billion13.8%$173
New York$16.10 billion4.1%$147
Paris$13.05 billion16.0%$301
Palma de Mallorca$11.96 billion16.2%$220
Tokyo$11.91 billion7.8%$154
Phuket$10.46 billion12.6%$239

The forecast for 2018 indicates across-the-board growth, with Istanbul expecting the largest uptick in visitors.

The Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities 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 2017, and gives international overnight visitor growth forecasts for 2018.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 162 destination cities.

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Correspondent in Bangkok for Siam News Network. Editor at Thailand Business News

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