Bangkok is again the world’s most-visited city for the fourth consecutive year, beating out Paris and London. The rankings are compiled annually by Mastercard. Welcoming around 22.7 million international visitors, Bangkok ranked as the top destination for global travellers this year.
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.
According to the listing, Bangkok was host to more than 22 million international overnight travellers. Paris and London were in second and third place with just over 19 million overnight stayers each. Other Asian cities in the Top 10 include Singapore at #5 and KL at #6, and Tokyo at #9. Southeast Asia’s other popular tropical destination, Bali, came in at #19. New York, Istanbul, Tokyo and Antalya, Turkey rounded out the top 10.
The Mastercard Index, which expanded this year to look at global 162 cities, is not simply a ranking of the top travel destinations. Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2018 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a growth forecast for 2019.
London was the only city in the top 10 cities to score a drop in international overnight visitors declining by almost 4%. Tokyo is forecast to have the largest growth in arrivals this year, an increase of 10% to more than 14 million.
The number of international visitors across the 200 cities grew by 76 per cent in the last 10 years.
Phuket and Pattaya also scored in the top 20 most popular locations this year, #14 and #15 respectively.
Despite Bangkok’s longtime reign atop the list, the Thai tourism industry has faced headwinds, with arrivals dropping 1.03 per cent year-on-year in May before recovering to grow 0.89 per cent in June from a year earlier. Tourism accounts for about 12 per cent of Thailand’s economy. A boom in the sector fizzled this year as the baht strengthened and the global economy slowed.
Top 10 cities ranked by 2018 visitor numbers
1. Bangkok, Thailand: 22.78 million international overnight visitors
2. Paris, France: 19.10 million international overnight visitors
3. London, England: 19.09 million international overnight visitors
4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates: 15.93 million international overnight visitors
5. Singapore: 14.67 million international overnight visitors
6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 13.79 million international overnight visitors
7. New York City, USA: 13.60 million international overnight visitors
8. Istanbul, Turkey: 13.40 million international overnight visitors
9. Tokyo, Japan: 12.93 million international overnight visitors
10. Antalya, Turkey: 12.41 million international overnight visitors
You can read the full report here.