Report adds insights into purpose of travel and local spend

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 BANGKOK – September 22, 2016 – Bangkok is the top-ranked destination city by international overnight visitor arrivals according to the annual Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index released today.

The Index provides more than a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world. It projects visitor volume and spend estimates for the 2016 calendar year, while delivering a deeper understanding of how people travel and spend around the world. As cross-border travel and spending continue to grow at a faster pace than the world GDP, the world’s cities continue to be engines of broader economic growth. Tweet: NEWS: Mastercard reveals Bangkok as the top-ranked destination city #GDCI16

According to the study, Bangkok is projected to receive 21.47 million international overnight visitors in 2016, just ahead of second-ranked London. Forecasted international overnight visitors to the rest of the top 10 cities include:

  • London – 19.88 million visitorsinforgaphicv2b-01
  • Paris – 18.03 million visitors
  • Dubai – 15.27 million visitors
  • New York – 12.75 million visitors
  • Singapore – 12.11 million visitors
  • Kuala Lumpur – 12.02 million visitors
  • Istanbul – 11.95 million visitors
  • Tokyo – 11.70 million visitors
  • Seoul – 10.20 million visitors

The biggest surprise in this year’s Index is Dubai’s jump to the top rank based on international visitor spending of US$31.3 billion, far exceeding the second ranked London estimated at US$19.8 billion.

“The way people travel and spend across borders indicates just how interconnected and important the world’s cities are,” said Ann Cairns, President of International Markets, Mastercard. “As the planning and experience of the trip become increasingly important, Mastercard is bringing all these pieces together seamlessly through innovation and connections.”

Fastest Growing Destination Cities Ranking

The difference between the global top 10 and the fastest growing top 10 destination cities suggests that Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa have become increasingly important to the global economic landscape. Many cities measured on the Index have increasing growth trajectories, indicating the growing interest in both visiting and living in cities.

Osaka has shown the strongest growth in international visitors (24.15 percent) over the last seven years. Other cities that made the forecasted top 10 fastest growing cities include:

  • Chengdu – 20.14 percent
  • Abu Dhabi – 19.81 percent
  • Colombo – 19.57 percent
  • Tokyo – 18.48 percent
  • Riyadh – 16.45 percent
  • Taipei – 14.53 percent
  • Xi’an – 14.20 percent
  • Tehran – 12.98 percent
  • Xiamen – 12.93 percent

New Insights into Purpose of Travel and Local Spend

For the first time, the Index explores whether visitors travel for business or leisure as well as insights into how international visitors spend, including dining, lodging and shopping.  The 2016 Index shows that among the top 20 cities, more people travel internationally for leisure, except to Shanghai. Visitors to the top 20 overwhelmingly spent more while shopping, as opposed to dining, except in Europe, where meals captured greater share of spend in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Istanbul, Milan, Paris, Prague and Vienna.


Identifying Regional Trends

The Index provides insight into top destination cities in each region, including:

  • Asia Pacific – The region dominates both the global top 10 (five cities) and Top 10 fastest growing destination cities (seven cities).
  • Europe – London, ranked second globally and first in the region, is the top feeder city in terms of visitor and spending volume for all other cities that round out the top European destinations: Paris, Istanbul, Barcelona and Amsterdam.
  • Latin America – Lima is both the top destination and fastest growing city in the region, with 4.03 million visitors (ranked 32nd globally) and a growth rate of 9.9 percent (ranked 15th globally). However, the rankings are very different in terms of overnight visitor spend; Punta Cana leads the region with US$2.95 billion followed by Mexico City (US$2.27 billion).
  • Middle East and Africa – Dubai is the top ranked destination city in the region (ranked fourth globally), while Abu Dhabi is the fastest growing in the region with a growth rate of 81 percent. This marks the United Arab Emirates as both the most visited and fastest growing country in the region for the second year in a row.
  • North America – New York, ranked fifth globally, is the top destination city in the region. It significantly surpasses the rest of the region in overnight visitor spend at US$18.25 billion. Nearly 90 percent of New York’s international visitors are from outside North America, led by London, Paris, Sao Paulo, Toronto and Beijing.

Mastercard understands the significant role that cities play as centers of commerce, reflected in efforts to deliver technologies that provide greater efficiencies and convenience for governments and people. One example is the broad adoption of contactless payments by transit systems like London and Chicago. The insights from this report can also help airlines, hotels and other merchants create smarter, more relevant and customized experiences for their customers.

Download the full report here:

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, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2016.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight 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, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on Mastercard volumes or transactional data.

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA),, 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

Ryan Erenhouse