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Bangkok Claims Title as World’s Most Visited City: 2016 Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index

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Bangkok, London and Paris are the top three destination cities by international overnight visitor arrivals, according to the sixth annual Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index released today.

The Index provides a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world. It projects visitor volume and spend estimates for the 2016 calendar year, delivering a deeper understanding of how people travel and spend around the world. 

Australian cities have missed a spot on the list of Global Destinations by visitor numbers for the last seven years of the report, but tourists continue to spend up while visiting the nations biggest city. Sydney landed a place in the top 20 destinations by visitor spend again this year, with tourists expected to spend more than AU$8.48 billion (US$6.4 billion) over 2016.

For the fifth consecutive year, Sydney has beat Melbourne for a spot globally by spend, but the sports mecca is still a regional hot spot, placing tenth in the top ten Asia Pacific cities by visitor spend. Melbourne visitors are expected to spend AU$6.55 billion ($US4.94 billion), up 0.8% from 2015.

Andrew Cartwright, Mastercard Australia Country Manager, said, “Australia’s geographical location makes it difficult for our cities to compete based on visitor numbers, but it is extremely impressive that when it comes to spending, Sydney and Melbourne are notable contenders globally and regionally. When visiting our most popular cities, tourists are clearly utilising the opportunity to spend big on shopping trips and local experiences.”

“With more people than ever visiting cities, countries must continue to innovate and cater to the needs and penchants of tourists.  As a technology leader, Mastercard is committed to helping Australia become more efficient and welcoming by embedding digital payments into its DNA.  Through payment technology and global payment networks the aim is to give visitors the ability to get around cities in a simple and seamless way, that makes visiting the city easier for the traveller and more valuable to local businesses.” Concludes Mr. Cartwright.

According to the study, Bangkok is projected to receive 21.47 million international overnight visitors in 2016, just ahead of second-ranked London. Forecasted international overnight visitors to the top 10 cities include:

  1. Bangkok – 21.47 million
  2. London – 19.88 million
  3. Paris – 18.03 million
  4. Dubai – 15.27 million
  5. New York – 12.75 million
  6. Singapore – 12.11 million
  7. Kuala Lumpur – 12.02 million
  8. Istanbul – 11.95 million
  9. Tokyo – 11.70 million
  10. Seoul – 10.20 million

Asian cities make up half of the global top 10 cities – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul – and seven of the top 10 fastest growing destination cities – Osaka, Chengdu, Colombo, Tokyo, Taipei, Xi’an and Xiamen.

Eric Schneider, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, Mastercard Advisors believes growth isn’t going to slow down any time soon in the region, “Asia Pacific has been the fastest growing region for international tourism since 2005, with underlying growth momentum expected to continue especially with the burgeoning middle class in Southeast Asia, China and India seeking new travel experiences within the region.