Bangkok has reclaimed its place as the world’s most-visited city, ahead of London.
According to the 2016 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, which is based on projected full-year international arrival figures, Thailand’s capital city will attract 21.47 million overnight visitors this year, compared to last year’s 18.24m. This strong growth will help propel Bangkok back to the top of the charts, above second placed London (19.88m) and third placed Paris (18.03m).
Eric Schneider, MasterCard Advisors’ senior vice president for Asia Pacific, said that rising affluence among Asian citizens is fuelling the growth of global tourism, and especially intra-Asian travel.
“Asia Pacific has been the fastest growing region for international tourism since 2005, with underlying growth momentum expected to continue especially with the burgeoning middle class in Southeast Asia, China and India seeking new travel experiences within the region,” Schneider said.
The rise of intra-Asian travel is evidenced by the fact that five of the world’s 10 most-visited cities are located in East Asia, with Bangkok followed by Singapore (sixth in the global list with 12.11m visitors), Kuala Lumpur (seventh, 12.02m), Tokyo (ninth, 11.70m) and Seoul (tenth, 10.20m).
And seven of the top 10 fastest growing destination cities – Osaka (+24.2%), Chengdu (+20.1%), Colombo (+19.6%), Tokyo (+18.5%), Taipei (+14.5%), Xi’an (+14.2%) and Xiamen (+13.0%) – are also located in the region.
The MasterCard Index also reveals that, among the top 20 cities, more people travel internationally for leisure than business. This is most common in Bangkok (85.6% leisure) and Shanghai was the only top 20 city where the majority of visitors were business travellers (54.6%).
MasterCard’s most-visited cities 2016:
1. Bangkok – 21.47 million
2. London – 19.88 million
3. Paris – 18.03 million
4. Dubai – 15.27 million
5. New York – 12.75 million