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Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2018: Half Of Top 10 Destinations In Index Are Asia Pacific Cities

September 27, 2018 Accolades No Comments

In a world of rising nationalism, international travel takes on greater importance—breaking down barriers, broadening our horizons and driving economic impact felt throughout the world’s cities. the past decade, Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index has offered important analysis of travel to and within cities. Asia Pacific destinations again feature highly in this year’s Index, with five Asia Pacific cities – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul – making up half of the top 10 destinations.

The Mastercard Index, which expanded this year to look at 162 cities, is not simply a ranking of the top travel destinations. Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2017 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a growth forecast for 2018 and—for the first time—a view into average length of stay and amount spent per day.

With the global economy buzzing, the annual growth of international overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities was up in 2017 except for Seoul, which saw a dip, from seventh to tenth place. The forecast for 2018 indicates across-the-board growth, with Bangkok (9.6 percent) expecting the largest uptick in visitors.

Bangkok Remains Top Destination in Asia Pacific

With roughly 20 million international overnight visitors in 2017, Bangkok remains in the top spot this year. Visitors tend to stay in Bangkok 4.7 nights and spend $173 per day, on average.

The Global Top 10 Destination Cities – Asia

Global Rank Asian Destinations 2017 International Overnight Visitors Growth Forecast for 2018 Average Length of Stay Average Spend Per Day
1 Bangkok 20.05 million 9.6% 4.7 nights $173
5 Singapore 13.91 million 4.0% 4.3 nights $286
7 Kuala Lumpur 12.58 million 7.5% 5.5 nights $124
8 Tokyo 11.93 million 1.6% 6.5 nights $154
10 Seoul 9.54 million 6.1% 4.2 nights $181

Asia Pacific Continues to be Popular with Chinese Tourists

Tourists from China continue to top the list of origin countries for travel to Asia Pacific. Southeast Asian cities, such as Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Pattaya, and Bali are fast becoming must-visit destinations for Chinese tourists. Phuket is the most popular destination for Chinese tourists, with a growth rate of 56.1 percent in the last eight years (2009 – 2017, CAGR basis).

Asian Destinations Percentage share of arrivals from China
Bangkok 34.3%
Singapore 18.4%
Kuala Lumpur 16.8%
Tokyo 19.8%
Seoul 31.1%
Phuket 28.8%
Pattaya 31.3%
Bali 24.3%

Tourist Spend in Southeast Asia Highest Across Asia Pacific

As one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world, Southeast Asia attracted some of the highest spending visitors. The top three Southeast Asian destinations within the Global Top 10 by Expenditure – Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket – captured US$43.85 billion of total expenditure by international overnight tourists. Singapore, a renowned shopper’s destination in Asia Pacific, retained its lead as the top city in terms of visitor expenditure, attracting the highest spending visitors at US$286 per day.

Newcomer to the Index, Phuket, Thailand, debuted straight in the Top 10 destinations list, with an average daily spend of US$239, the second highest in the sub-region.

Top Cities by Dollars Spent – Asia

Global Rank Asian Destinations 2017 International Overnight Visitor Spend (USD) Forecast for 2018 Average Spend by Day
4 Singapore $17.02 billion 7.4% $286
5 Bangkok $16.36 billion 13.8% $173
9 Tokyo $11.91 billion 7.76% $154
10 Phuket $10.46 billion 12.6% $239

Insights into Local Spend

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

  • Across the Asia Pacific region, visitors to Bali spent the highest percentage of their total expenditure on accommodation (44.6 percent) and spent the least on shopping (13.4 percent).
  • Visitors to Hong Kong (22.2 percent) and Osaka (22.4 percent) spend the most on food, whereas visitors to Singapore spend the least on dining (12.9 percent).
  • People are spending the most on shopping when visiting Osaka (43.4 percent), Tokyo (43.1 percent), and Seoul (47.4 percent).

Japanese Cities Are Growing the Fastest

Underscoring the importance of a robust infrastructure, leisure attractions and strong local culture, Japanese cities Okinawa (39.2 percent), Kyoto (27.8 percent), and Osaka (23.6 percent) are the fastest growing destination cities in Asia Pacific over the last eight years (2009 – 2017, CAGR basis).

Whether people visit cities for business or leisure, Mastercard works with a broad range of partners, including tourism bodies, urban planners, banks and merchants to:

  • Identify and address urban challenges through scalable solutions in digital inclusion and economic development; Mastercard recently launched City Possible, a global platform for cities, research institutions and private sector organizations to address common challenges through collaboration.
  • Simplify access to key urban services such as public transportation; in over 100 cities (and growing), visitors and locals can use the contactless Mastercard they already carry to access trains and buses.
  • Help people traverse the globe with peace of mind, providing seamless planning, conveniences and connectivity at their destination and worry-free acceptance at millions of locations around the globe.
  • Create unique experiences across food, entertainment and shopping in 42 Priceless Cities around the globe, including Bangkok, London, Paris and many others throughout the Index.

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