According to the results of the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released yesterday, Asia Pacific has bested itself with five out of the top ten destinations for international travelers hailing from the region, up from four in the previous year.
Bangkok relinquished its top spot from last year to London, but still came in strong in second place, retaining its leading position amongst the Asia Pacific cities despite an 11 percent decline in visitors on account of the political unrest that has plagued Thailand since the latter part of 2013.
Southeast Asian cities also show promising growth rates with Jakarta projected to see growth of 18.8%, followed by Hanoi (15.1%) and Manila (14.3%). Kuala Lumpur, despite a marginally lower projected growth rate of 13.1%, makes it to Asia Pacific’s top ten for international visitors by sheer arrival numbers. The Malaysian capital city also boasts the second highest growth rate in the Global top 20. At US$14.3 billion, Singapore took over Bangkok’s top spot for international visitor spend in Asia Pacific, up 7.6 percent from last year. The city-state’s projected visitor arrivals expenditure per city resident stood at US$2,600, beating out London’s US$2,378 and second only to Dubai.
Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor to MasterCard said “International visitors and their spending are powerful transformational forces in destination cities from the business, social and cultural perspectives. Since 2009, we’ve seen cross-border travel and associated spending growing at faster rates than real world GDP. This continued growth of travel across borders reflects a continued interest and desire for new cultural experiences from all geographies, including the growing middle class in many emerging markets who now have the purchasing power to pursue these opportunities.”
Now in its fourth year, the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index provides an overview and ranking of the 132 of the most important global cities.
Noting the prevalence of Southeast Asian markets in the top ten, Matthew Driver, president, South East Asia, MasterCard added, “This Index serves as a gauge for understanding the global economy and travel driven connectivity and capacity across the world. The prominence of the South East Asian cities on the Index demonstrates the importance that trade and tourism plays in these economies, all of whom have clearly benefitted from a deliberate and on-going investment in travel capacity and infrastructure.”
Region by Region Overview:
- Europe: London, Paris and Istanbul continue to represent Europe in the global top ten, as ranked by number of international overnight visitors. This year, 67 percent of London’s international visitors are from other European cities – a strong indication of Europe’s strengthening economy. Barcelona and Amsterdam represent the remaining regional leaders, with Amsterdam climbing one place to 12th overall on the global rankings.
- Latin America: Lima built on its position as 2013’s fastest growing Top 10 Latin American city, retaining the top spot on the regional lineup. Punta Cana, a new entry to the list of cities covered, replaces Santiago in Dominican Republic and joins the list of top ten as the number four destination city for visitors this year, displacing Caracas. Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, all mainstays on the rankings, round out the regional top five.
- Middle East and Africa: Retaining its position as the top regional destination, Dubai is also one of the fastest growing cities in the global top ten, far outpacing other Middle East markets with nearly US$11 billion in visitor spending. If growth continues at current rates, Dubai would overtake Paris and Singapore to be the third leading global destination within five years. Riyadh, Johannesburg, Abu Dhabi and Cape Town wrap up the regional leaders.
- North America: The region’s top destinations have been fairly consistent since the creation of the index. New York continues to pace the group, serving as the sole North American representative on the global top ten list. Also unchanged from 2013 are Los Angeles, Miami, Toronto and San Francisco’s position in the regional top five. Chicago is forecast to be the fastest growing city in North America, both in terms of visitors and international spend this year.
The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2014.
Public data are used in deriving the international visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.
This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on MasterCard volumes or transactional data.