• London attracted 20m visitors last year - up 770,000 on 2016 - spending £13.33bn

  • Visitors stayed 5.8 nights and spent £117 per day, on average

LONDON – September 25, 2018 – For the past decade, Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index has offered important analysis of travel to and within cities. This year’s top cities are Bangkok, London and Paris, once again underscoring the importance of robust infrastructure, both business and leisure attractions and strong local culture.


The numbers make hugely positive reading for London, which sees continued growth in visitor numbers, and the amount they spend.

With 19.83 million international overnight visitors, London retains second place this year. Visitors tend to stay in the city for 5.8 nights and spend £117 per day, on average.

London continues to dominate Europe in shopping expenditure by international visitors. People spend more money in London than any other European city, representing 49% of visitors’ expenditure.

International visitors spent £13.33 billion in London in 2017, an increase of 8.5% from the previous year. This was £3.4 billion more than visitors spent in Paris.

The Mastercard Index, which expanded this year to look at 162 cities globally, is not simply a ranking of the top travel destinations. Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2017 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a growth forecast for 2018 and —for the first time — a view into average length of stay and amount spent per day.

The annual growth of international overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities was up in 2017 except for Seoul, which saw a dip. The forecast for 2018 indicates across the board growth, with Istanbul expecting the largest uptick in visitors.

The global top 10 destination cities
2017 International Overnight Visitors2018 growth forecastAverage length of stayAverage daily spend (GBP)
Bangkok20.05 million9.6%4.7 nights£132
London19.83 million 3.0%5.8 nights£117
Paris17.44 million2.9%2.5 nights£230
Dubai15.79 million5.5%3.5 nights£410
Singapore13.91 million4.0%4.3 nights£286
New York13.13 million4.1%8.3 nights£112
Kuala Lumpur12.58 million7.5%5.5 nights£95
Tokyo11.93 million1.6%6.5 nights£118
Istanbul10.70 million19.7%5.8 nights£83
Seoul9.54 million6.1%4.2 nights£138

London has enjoyed years of continued growth in international visitors. In 2013, the capital attracted 16.81 million people from overseas. That number has since swelled by more than 3 million.

International overnight visitors to London
201320142015201620172018 (forecast)
16.81 million17.40 million18.58 million19.06 million19.83 million3.00%

London’s visitors’ expenditure was broken down as follows:

  • Shopping: 49%

  • Accommodation: 26.2%

  • Food and beverage: 17.6%

  • Local transport: 5%

  • Local services: 1.8%

  • Miscellaneous: 0.4%

Dubai continues to be the global leader in overnight visitor spend, with visitors spending a whopping £410 per day on average. It is joined in the Top 10 with newcomers Makkah in Saudi Arabia, which debuts in the number two spot, Palma de Mallorca and Phuket.

Top cities by Pounds Sterling spent
2017 international overnight visitor spend2018 forecastAvg. daily spend
Dubai£29.70 billion7.8%£410
Makkah£18.45 billion7.4%£103
London£13.33 billion 13.7%£117
Singapore£17.02 billion7.4%£219
Bangkok£16.36 billion13.8%£132
New York£16.10 billion4.1%£112
Paris£13.05 billion16.0%£230
Palma de Mallorca£11.96 billion16.2%£168
Tokyo£11.91 billion7.8%£118
Phuket£10.46 billion12.6%£183

“International travel is crucial to many urban economies, enriching the lives of both residents and tourists. The bar is rising for cities to innovate to provide both a memorable and authentic experience,” said Miguel Gamiño Jr., executive vice president, global cities for Mastercard. “We’re partnering closely with cities around the world to ensure they have insights and technologies to improve how they attract and cater to tourists while preserving what makes them so special in the first place.”

Whether people visit cities for business or leisure, Mastercard works with a broad range of partners, including tourism bodies, urban planners, banks and merchants to:

  • Identify and address urban challengesthrough scalable solutions in digital inclusion and economic development; Mastercard recently launched City Possible, a global platform for cities, research institutions and private sector organisations to address common challenges through collaboration.

  • Simplify access to key urban services such as public transportation; in over 100 cities (and growing), visitors and locals can use the contactless Mastercard they already carry to access trains and buses.

  • Help people traverse the globe with peace of mind: seamless planning, conveniences and connectivity at their destination and worry-free acceptance at millions of locations around the globe.

  • Create unique experiences across food, entertainment and shopping in 42 Priceless Cities around the globe, including London.


About the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index

The Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities 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 2017, and gives international overnight visitor growth forecasts for 2018.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 162 destination cities.

Forecasts are based upon the weighted average of the national level tourism forecasts and the actual 2018 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.

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau

Mastercard Communications Contact
Adam Keal +44 (0)20 7557 5182

Adam Keal