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Visitors spend-up in Sydney and Melbourne, but Bangkok claims title as World’s most visited city: Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index

October 3, 2017 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

Travel and tourism in Asia Pacific are showing no signs of slowing down with the region dominating visitor arrivals once again, according to the seventh annual Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index.

The proof is also in the purchase, with Asia Pacific destinations tracking the highest amount of international overnight visitor spending among its top 10 cities. Bringing in US$91.16 billion in travel expenditure in 2016, Asia Pacific outpaced Europe (US$74.74 billion), and North America (US$55.02 billion).

Ranking the world’s 132 top destination cities, the Index analyses visitor volume and spend for the 2016 calendar year and provides a forecast for annual growth, insights on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world.

Visitors continue to spend in Sydney and Melbourne

Australian cities missed out on a spot on the list of Global Destinations by visitor numbers for the seventh year running (in 2017 over 3.87 million international visitors are expected to Sydney, while over 2.67 million are expected to Melbourne), but tourists continue to spend up while visiting the nation’s biggest city. Sydney landed in 15th place again this year in the top 20 destinations by visitor spend, with tourists expected to spend more than AU$8.99 billion (US$7.08 billion) over 2017[1].

For the sixth consecutive year, Sydney beat Melbourne for a spot globally by spend, but the sports mecca is still a regional hot spot, placing tenth in the top ten Asia Pacific cities by visitor spend. Melbourne visitors spent AU$6.54 billion (US$5.15 billion). Sydney placed seventh on the same list.

Andrew Cartwright, Mastercard Australia Country Manager, said, “Australia’s geographical location makes it difficult for our cities to compete based on visitor numbers, but it is extremely impressive that when it comes to spending, Sydney and Melbourne are notable contenders globally and regionally. When visiting our most popular cities, tourists are clearly utilising the opportunity to spend up on shopping trips and local experiences.”

“With more people than ever visiting cities, countries must continue to innovate and cater to the needs and penchants of tourists.  As a technology leader, Mastercard is committed to helping Australia become more efficient and welcoming by embedding digital payments into its DNA.  Through payment technology and global payment networks we’re helping visitors get around cities in a simple and seamless way that makes visiting the city easier for traveller and more valuable to local businesses. Mastercard’s recent work with Transport for New South Wales to bring contactless ticketing payments to the Manly Ferries Circular Quay to Manly route is a great example of how innovation in payments can create a more seamless and enjoyable visitor experience,” concludes Mr. Cartwright.

Bangkok claimed top spot on the list of top destination cities by international overnight visitor arrivals, followed by London and Paris. Singapore inched past New York into fifth position for the first time in three years, while Seoul leapfrogged three spots into seventh place.

Overall, forecasts for continued growth in 2017 are positive except for New York, with Tokyo expecting the largest boom.

Forecasted international overnight visitors to the top 10 cities include:

  Destination 2016 International Overnight Visitors Forecast for 2017
1 Bangkok 19.41 million visitors 4.0 percent
2 London 19.06 million visitors 5.0 percent
3 Paris 15.45 million visitors 4.4 percent
4 Dubai 14.87 million visitors 7.7 percent
5 Singapore 13.11 million visitors 2.6 percent
6 New York 12.70 million visitors (-2.4 percent)
7 Seoul 12.39 million visitors 0.4 percent
8 Kuala Lumpur 11.28 million visitors 7.2 percent
9 Tokyo 11.15 million visitors 12.2 percent
10 Istanbul 9.16 million visitors 0.9 percent

Asia Pacific’s success as a global travel hub has been supported by strong intra-regional travel. Both Singapore and Seoul tracked significant growth, aided by visitors from neighbouring countries, particularly those from China. In the Index’s seven-year history, China has grown from being passive contributors to the region’s travel sector to the main driver of growth for visitor arrivals into Asia Pacific’s top destinations.

Asian cities make up half of the global top 10 cities – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul – and seven of the top 10 fastest growing destination cities – Osaka, Chengdu, Colombo, Tokyo and Taipei.

The forecasted top 10 fastest growing cities by CAGR (2009-2016) include:

  Destination Growth in visitors by CAGR from 2009-2016
1 Osaka 24.0 percent
2 Chengdu 22.7 percent
3 Colombo 20.3 percent
4 Abu Dhabi 18.9 percent
5 Jakarta 18.2 percent
6 Tokyo 17.7 percent
7 Hanoi 16.4 percent
8 Riyadh 15.9 percent
9 Lima 15.2 percent
10 Taipei 14.5 percent

Eric Schneider, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, Mastercard Advisors believes growth isn’t going to slow down any time soon in the region, “As the fastest growing region for international tourism, Asia Pacific’s travel sector will no doubt continue to serve as a key source of in-market economic growth and development. The rise of leisure and business travel across the region presents a vital imperative for governments and private stakeholders to invest in smart networks and infrastructures that provide seamless experiences for residents, tourists and business travellers. Cities that do so will realise their potential as true global destinations, and reap the economic benefits of increased visitors and greater spending.”

Insights into Purpose of Travel and Local Spend

Across the Top 20 destination cities, leisure was the main purpose for the majority of travel. Kuala Lumpur led the pack, with 92.2 percent of visitors there on vacation. Conversely, nearly half (48.4 percent) of Shanghai’s visitors are there on business.

Looking closer at the Top 10 destination cities, expenditure categories identified in the Index illustrate how people are spending when they visit:

  • Istanbul stands out as the only city with the greatest percent of visitor spend going to Dining (33.6 percent)
  • People spend most on shopping while in Seoul (56.5 percent), followed by London (46.7 percent), Tokyo (43.1 percent), Kuala Lumpur (31.3 percent) and Dubai (31.0 percent)
  • Travelers can expect lodging to be the lion’s share of expenditure when visiting Paris (44.8 percent) and New York (31.8 percent)
  • With efficient transport systems in place, less budget is spent on local transit in London (4.3 percent), Singapore (4.6 percent), and Tokyo (6.9 percent)

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