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Hong Kong Remains the Ninth Most Visited City Globally: MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index

July 11, 2014 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

Asia Pacific has bested itself once again with five out of the top 10 destinations for international travelers hailing from the region, up from four in the previous year, according to the results of the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released today.

Expecting to see a growing influx of visitors, the Index revealed that Hong Kong remains the ninth most visited destination city globally, retaining its fourth place on the Asia Pacific rankings. The Index projected Hong Kong to expect 8.84 million visitors in 2014, following Bangkok (16.42 million), Singapore (12.47 million) and Kuala Lumpur (10.81 million), which are among the top five cities by international overnight visitors in Asia Pacific.

Hong Kong is also expected to see a jump in international visitor spend of 9.7% from last year to US$8.3 billion, placing it fifth in Asia Pacific and globally.

Now in its fourth year, the latest Index from MasterCard provides an overview and ranking of the 132 cities in the world, by looking at the total international visitor arrivals and cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities.

Notably, The Index sees Southeast Asian markets outperforming other cities with Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur taking up the top three spots by international overnight arrivals in Asia Pacific. While Bangkok relinquished its top spot from last year to London globally, it came in second place, retaining its leading position amongst the Asia Pacific cities despite an 11 percent decline in visitors on account of the political unrest in Thailand. Other Southeast Asian cities also show promising growth rates with Jakarta projected to see growth of 18.8 percent, followed by Hanoi (15.1%) and Manila (14.3%). Kuala Lumpur, despite a marginally lower projected growth rate of 13.1 percent, makes it to Asia Pacific’s top 10 for international visitors by sheer arrival numbers.  The Malaysian capital city also boasts the second highest growth rate in the Global top 20.

Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Global Economic Advisor to MasterCard said, “International visitors and their spending are powerful transformational forces in destination cities from the business, social and cultural perspectives.  Since 2009, we’ve seen cross-border travel and associated spending growing at faster rates than real world GDP. This continued growth of travel across borders reflects a continued interest and desire for new cultural experiences from all geographies, including the growing middle class in many emerging markets who now have the purchasing power to pursue these opportunities.”

“The strong growth rates indicate a continued positive outlook for Hong Kong. With a 9.7% robust increase in the number of international visitor spends and 7% jump in the number of inbound overnight travelers, Hong Kong is poised to become a top global destination for both business and leisure travelers.” said Anna Yip, head of Hong Kong & Macau.

In addition to analyzing the international overnight arrivals and spend, the Index measures the breadth of a destination city’s connectivity by air with the rest of world through the Air Hub Index. Of the global top 10 destination cities, Hong Kong is one of the seven cities that are in the top 10 by the Air Hub Index scores. This year, Hong Kong is placed ninth and with its strong flight connectivity, it is projected to be the second fastest growing destination city as denoted by air hub index scores.

Additional Highlights 

Asia Pacific

  • Thailand retains its leading position amongst the Asia Pacific cities despite an 11 percent decline in visitors on account of the political unrest in the country since the latter part of 2013
  • Singapore moves above Bangkok and tops the chart in terms of inbound travelers expenditure with US$14.3 billion
  • Four of the top 10 cities for international visit spends are from Asia Pacific
  • Hong Kong is the third largest feeder city of Bangkok behind Singapore and Tokyo, sharing 926,000 visitors among the 58 percent travelers who came from the region. The total expenditure generated by Hong Kong travelers in Bangkok hit US$767 million


  • London, Paris and Istanbul continue to represent Europe in the global top 10, as ranked by the number of international overnight visitors.  This year, 67 percent of London’s international visitors are from other European cities – a strong indication of Europe’s recovering economy 

Middle East and Africa

  • Dubai is in the clear number one and in a league of its own with US$10.9 billion visitor expenditure and 11.95 million visitors
  • It is expected that Dubai will overtake Paris and Singapore to be the third leading global destination within five years


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