PURCHASE, NY – September 4, 2019
Over the past ten years the world has seen economic ebbs and flows, evolving global competition and partnership, and boundless technological innovation. But, one thing has remained constant: people’s growing desire to travel the world, visit new landscapes and immerse themselves in other cultures. Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index, released today, quantifies this desire: since 2009, the number of international overnight visitors grew an astounding 76 percent.
This year, 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.
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.
“In today’s interconnected world, travel has become an important part of how we work and how we live,” said Carlos Menendez, president, Enterprise Partnerships. “It’s critical for us to understand how travel impacts cities and destinations for the better and the challenges it poses, to ensure local leaders have the information and solutions they need to succeed.”
More information and the full reports can be found here.
The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index ranks 200 cities based on third-party research and proprietary analysis 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 2018 and gives visitor and expenditure growth forecasts.
Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 200 destination cities. Forecasts are based upon the weighted average of the national level tourism forecasts and the actual 2019 monthly data at the destination level, which is available to the latest month before release.
This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on Mastercard volumes or transactional data.
The Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI) is a regional subset of Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI).
More information and the full APDI report can be found here.
PLEASE NOTE. A correction has been made to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index. Santa Cruz De La Palma, Spain, was mislabeled and should read Las Palmas, Spain. The data within the report remains accurate and the destination has been updated to be attributed to Las Palmas.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.