For the past decade, Mastercard's Global Destination Cities Index has offered invaluable analysis of travel to and within cities, and this year's edition revealed curious statistics about how people are travelling. For example, Asia Pacific destinations once again feature highly, 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 include 162 cities, is based on visitor volume and spend for 2017 and provides a growth forecast for 2018. For the first time ever, the index also features the 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 - save for Seoul, which experienced a minor dip from seventh to tenth place. The forecast for 2018 indicates across-the-board growth, with Bangkok expecting the largest uptick at 9.6%.
The global top 10 destination in Asia Pacific in 2017:
1. Bangkok (20.05 million international overnight visitors)
5. Singapore (13.91 million international overnight visitors)
7. Kuala Lumpur (12.58 million international overnight visitors)
8. Tokyo (11.93 million international overnight visitors)
10. Seoul (9.54 million international overnight visitors)
Other key highlights include:
● 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. In fact, Phuket is the most popular destination for Chinese tourists, with a growth rate of 56.1% in the last eight years (2009-2017)
● Tourist spend in Southeast Asia highest across Asia Pacific: 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.
● Japanese cities growing the fastest in Asia Pacific: Japanese cities Okinawa, Kyoto and Osaka, are the fastest growing destination cities in Asia Pacific, growing at 39.2%, 27.8% and 23.6% (between 2009-2017)