A New Way of Looking at the Global Economy – Destination Cities

The grey wolf has returned to Germany.  In fact, he’s been back for 10 years.  More Germans live in cities; and a depopulated countryside has room for creatures that most of us thought departed long ago.

More humans of all kinds are living in cities. At some point in 2006-2007, for the first time in human history, the majority of the world’s population lived in urban areas, up from just 15% in 1900. That’s a historic milestone in a journey that started over 5,000 years ago. Today, cities continue to perform the same functions as their predecessors did in Mesopotamia and ancient China, except that they are much bigger, more complex, and increasingly diverse, with vastly expanding geographical reach. The urban economies are typically richer and more dynamic than the rural economies of the same country.

In the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, many of the world’s leading cities have demonstrated their resilience and ability to recover quickly. In the post-crisis global economy, cities and their urban economies will be will become even more important as engines of global economic growth.

International travel is an indicator of this growth, underpinning in turn the growth of key industries, such as transportation, retail and hospitality, as well as professional services like marketing and advertising. The economic and business impacts of international travel are especially pronounced in cities that are popular destinations of international travel, and in the destination cities, spending by international visitors contributes significantly to local commerce and business activities, amplifying the dynamism of these urban economies.

Most important, many emerging market destination cities are showing both high visitor arrival and expenditure growth. This kind of growth strongly suggests that destination cities in emerging markets worldwide will continue to grow in importance in the new global economy.

These insights are based on MasterCard Worldwide’s Global Destination Cities Index.  Watch the video below to see me explain the results.

Yuwa Hedrick-Wong is a guest blogger and Adjunct Professor at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Canada.