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Bangkok Tops Mastercard’s Cities Index For The Fourth Consecutive Year

Bangkok remains the No. 1 destination, with more than 22 million international overnight visitors, but Dubai tops the list for spending.

Boris Sullivan

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The Global Destination Cities Index—which ranks 200 cities based on proprietary analysis of publicly available visitor volume and spend data—reveals that Bangkok remains the No. 1 destination, with more than 22 million international overnight visitors.

Paris and London, in flipped positions this year, hold the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively both hovering over 19 million. All top ten cities saw more international overnight visitors in 2018 than the prior year, with the exception of London, which decreased nearly 4 percent.

The forecast for 2019 indicates across-the-board growth, with Tokyo expecting the largest uptick in visitors.

Big spenders prefer Dubai

When looking at the cities by dollar spent, Dubai tops the list with travelers spending USD $553 on average a day.

Makkah, new to the top 10 last year, remains at No. 2 for the second consecutive year, with Bangkok rounding out the top three.

Notably this year, the Global Destination Cities Index offers a decade of insights to consider, with three key trends standing out.

  • Consistent & Steady Growth: Over the past decade, the one constant has been continual change. Each year, more people are traveling internationally and spending more in the cities. Between all of the destinations within the Index, arrivals have grown on average 6.5 percent year-over-year since 2009, with expenditure growing on average 7.4 percent.
  • The Sustained Dominance of Major Cities: While there has been significant movement in visitors to smaller cities, the top 10 has remained largely consistent. London, Paris and Bangkok have been the top 3 since 2010, with Bangkok as No. 1 six of the past seven years. New York is another top 10 stalwart, with 13.6 million overnight visitors this year.
  • The Rise of Asia-Pacific International Travelers: Cities in the Asia-Pacific region have seen the largest increase in international travelers since 2009, growing 9.4 percent. In comparison, Europe, which saw the second highest growth, was up 5.5 percent. This is spurred on by the growth in mainland Chinese travelers. Since 2009, mainland China has jumped up six places to be the No. 2 origin country for travelers to the 200 included destinations—behind only the U.S.

The Global Top 10 Destination Cities in 2018

2018 International Overnight VisitorsGrowth Forecast for 2019Average Length of StayAverage Spend Per Day (USD)
Bangkok22.78 million3.34%4.8 nights$184
Paris19.10 million2.24%2.5 nights$296
London19.09 million3.47%5.8 nights$148
Dubai15.93 million1.68%3.5 nights$553
Singapore14.67 million4.0%4.2 nights$272
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia13.79 million9.87%5.7 nights$142
New York13.60 million2.94%7.9 nights$152
Istanbul13.40 million8.14%5.8 nights$106
Tokyo12.93 million10.02%5.4 nights$196
Antalya, Turkey12.41 million8.14%14.0 nights$44
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