The world’s appetite for travel is voracious.
Since 2009, the number of international overnight visitors has grown by 76% globally, according to third-party research and proprietary analysis by financial services company Mastercard.
For the fourth year in a row, Bangkok is the No. 1 most popular city on Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index.
In 2018, the Thai capital welcomed 22.78 million international overnight visitors, with 3.34% growth forecast for 2019.
Many of Bangkok’s visitors originate from these top five destinations, listed in order: Mainland China, Japan, South Korea, India and the United Kingdom. Popular attractions include the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and for a day trip outside the city, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Paris and London rank No. 2 and No. 3 for visitors, both welcoming more than 19 million international visitors for overnight stays in 2018.
Mastercard’s index ranks 200 cities based on proprietary analysis of visitor volume and spending data that is publicly available.
All but one of the top 10 cities for visitor numbers in 2018 saw an uptick in international overnight visitors, with increases predicted across the board for 2019.
London was the only city on the current top 10 that saw a visitor decline year-over-year — a nearly 4% drop.
Asia-Pacific cities have seen the largest regional increase in international travelers since 2009, with a more than 9% increase spurred by rising numbers of mainland Chinese travelers.
The index also ranks cities by international overnight visitor spending. By that measure, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the No. 1 city. International overnight visitors spent $30.82 billion there in 2018, spending a whopping $553 per day, on average.
By comparison, visitors to Bangkok — the most popular city by visitor numbers — spent an average of $184 per day. Bangkok ranked third for total international overnight visitor spending ($20.03 billion), with Mecca, Saudi Arabia, at No. 2 ($20.09 billion).