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The world's most popular destinations for travellers: Bangkok, Paris and London

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No matter what changes the world has witnessed in the last 10 years, one thing has remained constant: people’s growing desire to travel the world, visit new landscapes, and immerse themselves in other cultures.

This is reinforced by Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index, which finds that since 2009, the number of international overnight visitors has grown an astounding 76%.

The biggest beneficiary of this trend has been Bangkok, which has remained the number one destination for travellers globally, for four years in a row, with more than 22mn international overnight visitors.

Bangkok is followed by Paris and London, with Dubai and Singapore wrapping up the fourth and fifth spots respectively.

The global top 10 destination cities in 2018


The rise of Asia Pacific international travellers

Cities in the APAC region have seen the largest increase in international travellers since 2009, growing 9.4%, so it's worth having a more in-depth look for mobility professionals.

In comparison, Europe, which saw the second highest growth, was up 5.5%, spurred on by the growth in mainland Chinese travellers. Since 2009, mainland China has jumped up six places to be the No. 2 origin country for travelers to the 200 included destinations — behind only the US.

The top 10 destination cities in Asia Pacific in 2018


Four key trends that are shaping the future of travel in APAC

1. Mainland China continues to exert the greatest influence over travel patterns and expenditure: Mainland Chinese travellers are discovering all corners of the region, turning sleeping giants into tourism hotspots. Since 2009, overnight arrivals by mainland Chinese travellers in APAC surged from 10.5mn to 62.4mn in 2018, representing a 21.9% CAGR. Notably, mainland China is amongst the top three source markets of outbound travelers for 82 cities in Asia Pacific.

2. Japan is now the hottest destination in Asia: For the second year in a row, Japan is the only market to command 25% of APAC's top 20 destinations, with Okinawa nudging out Kyoto to join the list for the first time, alongside Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido and Chiba. Okinawa, Japan’s tropical paradise, is one of the region’s fastest-growing destinations, skyrocketing 109 places since 2009. Less-travelled cities such as Oita, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kyoto, Gifu and Nagano have also seen significant jumps.

3. Vacation destinations prevail over the fastest rising cities: While Japanese cultural centers top the list of the 10 fastest rising cities, the bustling industrial hub of Ludhiana in India’s Punjab claims the #2 spot, having jumped 78 places in the index since 2009. Dubbed the 'Manchester of India' for its production of textiles and hosiery, Ludhiana is the only industrial city in this list of fast risers. Sri Lanka’s coastal getaway Galle is in ninth, having climbed 54 places in the rankings since 2009.

4. Asia’s other avid travellers: Top contributor mainland China accounts for 18.2% of international overnight arrivals within APAC, while South Korea contributes 9.1% and Japan makes up 6%. Another source market to watch is India — in 2018, India waved off 14.9mn outbound travelers, of which nearly half, or 49.3%, visited destinations in Asia Pacific. Their most favoured APAC destinations were Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Pattaya and Bali.

All images / Mastercard

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