Mastercard: Bangkok world’s top tourism destination

Bangkok at night. Image: Mathias Krumbholz

For the second year in a row, Bangkok is the world’s top tourism destination, according to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index (GDCI) 2017.

Asia Pacific destinations made up five of the top 10 in the annual survey, which ranks the world’s 132 top destination cities – with Bangkok in Thailand taking out first place.

“It is easy to see why Bangkok has topped the Global Destinations Cities Index as a great place to travel,” said Peter Chisnall, Mastercard Country Manager for New Zealand and Pacific Islands.

“For New Zealanders, it is a close, cost-effective and exciting destination. Lots of Kiwis are making the most of the close proximity of Southeast Asia to enjoy fantastic cuisine, scenery and warmer weather.”

Asia Pacific had the highest amount of international overnight visitor spending among its top 10 cities bringing in US$91.16bn in travel expenditure in 2016. Following Asia Pacific was Europe with US$74.74bn, and North America, US$55.02bn.

“The amount of international visitor spend in the Asia Pacific indicates how much the popularity of this region is growing,” said Chisnall.

“Five cities in the top 10 are in the Asia Pacific, showing just how many world-class options are in this area for travellers. Places like Thailand are great for cost-effective travel, but also desirable for those wanting a luxury getaway.”

International overnight visitors to the top 10 destination cities were up in 2016. According to the Index, Bangkok had 19.41 million visitors, while London came in second with 19.06 million visitors. Paris (15.45 million visitors), Dubai (14.87 million visitors) and Singapore (13.11 million visitors) rounded out the top five visited cities.

Home to half of the world’s top ten most visited cities, Asia Pacific’s success as a global travel hub had been supported by strong regional travel, with both Singapore and Seoul tracking significant growth.

“Looking at the index we can see that the top Asia-Pacific destinations have been helped by tourists from neighboring countries – particularly China,” said Chisnall.

“There are also more flights than ever before heading to the region, and once you are there neighbouring cities are close to explore.”

Forecasts for continued growth in 2017 are positive except for New York, with Tokyo expecting the largest increase of international visitors.

  Destination 2016 International Overnight Visitors Forecast for 2017 2016 Visitor Spend (US$ bn)
1 Bangkok 19.41 million visitors 4.0 percent $14.1
2 London 19.06 million visitors 5.0 percent $16.1
3 Paris 15.45 million visitors 4.4 percent $12.0
4 Dubai 14.87 million visitors 7.7 percent $28.5
5 Singapore 13.11 million visitors 2.6 percent $15.7
6 New York 12.70 million visitors (-2.4 percent) $17.0
7 Seoul 12.39 million visitors 0.4 percent $9.4
8 Kuala Lumpur 11.28 million visitors 7.2 percent $7.2
9 Tokyo 11.15 million visitors 12.2 percent $11.3
10 Istanbul 9.16 million visitors 0.9 percent $5.8


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