The top destination city by international visitor arrivals in 2013 is Bangkok, which managed to surpass London by a very slim margin in MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities 2013 Index. This is the first time an Asian city is in the top rank since the Index was launched in 2010.
London is now followed by Paris, Singapore, New York, Istanbul and Dubai. Paris remains third, but is the only destination city among the top 20 that shows a decline in the estimated number of international visitor arrivals, by -0.7% in 2013. In contrast, Istanbul and Dubai show the strongest growth (along with Bangkok) in increasing their arrival numbers by 9.5% and 10.9% respectively. With the exception of Bangkok overtaking London to be in the top rank in the world, the lineup of the global top 20 in 2013 is the same as in 2012.
MasterCard said: “It has been more than four years since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008. The recovery has been slow to say the least, and the global economic outlook continues to be clouded by uncertainty. Against this background, international travel and cross-border spending have shown to be very resilient as evidenced by data from the 132 cities covered by MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index.
“International visitor arrivals grew almost twice as fast as world real GDP, and their cross-border spending grew over 2.3 times faster. So despite the persistent weakness of constrained demand in the global economy, international travel is growing strongly, and the 132 of the world’s most important destination cities are benefiting from this powerful trend.
“Not all 132 destination cities perform equally well, however. Indeed, a closer look at the change in air travel connectivity of the 132 destination cities over the 2009 and 2013 period shows a decidedly geographic pattern in growth. The level of air travel connectivity for a destination city can be measured in terms of both the scope of the city’s connections with other cities by air travel, as well as the frequency within each connection.
“Of the 12 destination cities showing the fastest increase in air travel connectivity, all are located east and south of Istanbul with the exception of Moscow. The city with the fastest-growing air travel connectivity in North America is Toronto, which ranks 13. The fastest- growing city in Western Europe in air travel connectivity is Berlin, which ranks 17. The African city with the fastest-growing air connectivity is Cairo, which ranks 19, and in Latin America it is Bogotá, which ranks 22.
“This geographical pattern clearly suggests that destination cities in emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia are expanding the fastest in being connected to the rest of the world through having more flights to more cities, and more frequent flights to cities where they are already connected. This will strongly drive the growth of their visitor arrivals and cross-border spending in the coming years.”