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Global Travel Destinations for 2013

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While London was the top city for travel in 2012 (unsurprising, considering the Olympics were held there), it has been bumped from the top spot by a surprise city, which is also the first Asian city to sit at number one.

While London was the top city for travel in 2012 (unsurprising, considering the Olympics were held there), it has been bumped from the top spot by a surprise: Bangkok.

According to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, Bangkok’s seat at number one represents a new dominance by the Asia/Pacific region — half of the top 10 cities are in the Greater China region.

“With the rise of the Asia/Pacific region, this year’s index reflects the rebalance that the globe is undergoing in large part because of the rise of emerging markets,” said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets at MasterCard Worldwide. “This shift is further underscored by electronic payments, which are enabling more people from more places to participate in the global economy than ever before.”

The index ranks cities in terms of the total international visitor arrivals and cross-border spending by visitors. Plus, it gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2013.

Global travel is trending up. According to the report, international visitor arrivals grew almost twice as fast as world real GDP and cross-border spending grew over 2.3 times faster.

10 Barcelona

Overnight visitor spending: $8.9 billion

International overnight visitors: 8.4 million

Barcelona has recovered from a contraction in 2012, rising to an estimated growth rate of visitor spending of 4.7% up from -3.1% last year.

9. Hong Kong

From Victoria Peak. Copyright chensiyuan | Wikipedia.org

Overnight visitor spending: $6.3 billion

International overnight visitors: 8.7 million

Visitor growth rates for Hong Kong are expected to be 4.2% in 2013, which is a huge drop from 16% in 2010.

8. Kuala Lumpur

Wikipedia.org.

Overnight visitor spending: $7.8 billion

International overnight visitors: 9.2 million

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Like Hong Kong, the estimated growth visitor growth rate for Kuala Lumpur in 2013 (3.9%) is far below the rate from 2010 (12.9%)

7. Dubai

Copyright Ranjit Laxman.

Overnight visitor spending: $10.4 billion

International overnight visitors:

Dubai has the number one rank in its region (Middle East and Africa) and shows the strongest growth with its arrival numbers increasing by 10.9% in 2013.

6. Istanbul

Hagia Sophia. Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz.

Overnight visitor spending: $8.6 billion

International overnight visitors: 10.4 million

Istanbul’s number overnight visitors has grown at astonishing rates, according to the report. If it continues on its path, and Paris continues on its decline, then Istanbul can expect to surpass Paris in numbers of international visitor arrivals by 2016.

5. New York

Manhattan’s Financial District.

Overnight visitor spending: $18.6 billion

International overnight visitors:

New York continues to rank number one for international overnight visitor spending, even though its growth rate is just 5% compared to Bangkok’s 11.4%.

4. Singapore

Overnight visitor spending: $13.5 billion

International overnight visitors: 11.7 million

Singapore’s growth rate for international overnight visitor spending (5.9%) has been in free fall since 2010 (54.2%).

3. Paris

Eiffel Tower.

Overnight visitor spending: $14.6 billion

International overnight visitors: 13.9 million

Paris is the only city among the top 20 that shows a decline in the estimated number of international visitor arrivals by 0.7%.

2. London

London Eye. Wikipedia.org

Overnight visitor spending: $16.3 billion

International overnight visitors: 15.96 million

London was just edged out of the top spot by the slimmest of margins — just 25,000 visitors (or 1%) separated London from the number one spot.

1. Bangkok

Grand Palace. Caspar | Wikipedia.org

Overnight visitor spending: $14.3 billion

International overnight visitors: 15.98 million

This is the third annual Global Destination Cities Index and the first time an Asian city is ranked number one. Bangkok has been a fast rise for the last few years — the city reported growth rates of better than 18% in 2011 and 2012 and it has an estimated 9.8% for 2013.


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