Mastercard Unveils Which Cities Benefit the Most from International Travel

PURCHASE, NY – September 26, 2017 – Around the world, tourism is driving the economic engines of growth and development. Since 2009, international travel and spending by overnight visitors to cities have grown faster than real GDP. To help cities understand key drivers and unlock the value of tourism, Mastercard today released its annual Mastercard Destination Cities Index.

The Index is more than just a ranking of the 132 top destination cities of today and tomorrow. Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2016 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a forecast for growth in 2017, insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world.

The Global Top 10 Destination Cities

International overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities were up in 2016 overall. Forecasts for continued growth in 2017, with Tokyo expecting the largest growth in visitors among the Top 10.


2016 International Overnight Visitors Growth Forecast for 2017
Bangkok 19.41 million visitors 4.0 percent
London 19.06 million visitors 5.0 percent
Paris 15.45 million visitors 4.4 percent
Dubai 14.87 million visitors 7.7 percent
Singapore 13.11 million visitors 2.6 percent
New York 12.70 million visitors (-2.4 percent)
Seoul 12.39 million visitors 0.4 percent
Kuala Lumpur 11.28 million visitors 7.2 percent
Tokyo 11.15 million visitors 12.2 percent
Istanbul 9.16 million visitors 0.9 percent


Spending Power: Destination Cities as Engines of Economic Growth

Since 2009, more than half of the top destination cities reported an increase in spend by overnight visitors consistent with or greater than GDP growth. These cities benefit greatly from tourism and are primed to be engines of broad economic growth for countries.

2016 International Overnight Visitor Spend Growth Forecast for 2017
Dubai $28.50 billion USD 10.2 percent
New York $17.02 billion USD 1.5 percent
London $16.09 billion USD (-4.6 percent)
Singapore $15.69 billion USD 0.3 percent
Bangkok $14.08 billion USD 10.9 percent
Paris $12.03 billion USD 4.9 percent
Tokyo $11.28 billion USD 3.7 percent
Taipei $9.91 billion USD 6.9 percent
Seoul $9.38 billion USD 1.8 percent
Barcelona $8.90 billion USD 6.9 percent

Destination Cities of Tomorrow

Globally, international overnight visitor arrivals across all 132 destinations have grown by 55.2 percent since 2009, significantly outpacing real GDP growth during the same period. The fastest growing destinations continue to demonstrate the importance of watching Asia/Pacific and the Middle East for future destination leaders.

Growth in visitors from 2009-2016
Osaka 24.0 percent
Chengdu 22.7 percent
Colombo 20.3 percent
Abu Dhabi 18.9 percent
Jakarta 18.2 percent
Tokyo 17.7 percent
Hanoi 16.4 percent
Riyadh 15.9 percent
Lima 15.2 percent
Taipei 14.5 percent

Insights into Purpose of Travel and Local Spend

Across the Top 20 destination cities, the majority of travel is conducted for leisure purposes, except in Shanghai where nearly half (48.4 percent) of visitors are travelling on business. Conversely, Kuala Lumpur has the greatest percentage of visitors, 92.2 percent, there on vacation.

The Index has identified expenditure categories that illustrate how people are spending when they visit the Top 20 destination cities:

  • Dining consumes the greatest percentage of visitor spend in Istanbul (33.6 percent), & Prague (29.3 percent)
  • People spend more on shopping while in Seoul (56.5 percent), London (46.7 percent), Osaka (43.4 percent) & Tokyo (43.1 percent)
  • Lodging can be the most expensive part of the trip when visiting Paris (44.8 percent), Milan (40.4 percent) & Rome (40.4 percent)
  • With efficient transport systems in place, less budget is spent on transit in London (4.3 percent), Singapore (4.6 percent), & Hong Kong (4.6 percent)

“We are seeing more people than ever visiting cities for business or leisure. At the same time, we know that people expect their experiences when traveling to be both seamless and personal,” said Carlos Menendez, president of enterprise partnerships at Mastercard. “The call to action is clear. Cities that apply technology to simplify services and connect people with their passion points can become true destination cities and realize the benefits of increased visitors and greater spending.”

Whether people visit cities for business or leisure, Mastercard is improving the travel experience by:

To learn more about the top locations on the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2017, please visit:

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 2016, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2017.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities.

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, +1 914 249 3176