Travel and tourism in Asia Pacific is showing no signs of slowing down, with the region dominating visitor arrivals once again, according to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2017, released today.
The proof is also in the purchase, with Asia Pacific destinations tracking the highest amount of international overnight visitor spending among its top 10 cities. Bringing in $91.16 billion USD in travel expenditure in 2016, Asia Pacific outpaced Europe ($74.74 billion USD), and North America ($55.02 billion USD).
Ranking the world’s 132 top destination cities, the Index analyzes visitor volume and spend for the 2016 calendar year and provides a forecast for annual growth, insights on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world.
Eric Schneider, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, Mastercard Advisors, said, “As the fastest growing region for international tourism, Asia Pacific’s travel sector will no doubt continue to serve as a key source of in-market economic growth and development. The rise of leisure and business travel across the region presents a vital imperative for governments and private stakeholders to invest in smart networks and infrastructures that provide seamless experiences for residents, tourists and business travelers. Cities that do so will realize their potential as true global destinations, and reap the economic benefits of increased visitors and greater spending.”
Asian Destinations Lead Global Visitor Arrivals
International overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities were up in 2016. According to the Index, Bangkok tracked 19.41 million visitors, while London came in a close second with 19.06 million visitors. Singapore (13.11 million visitors) inched past New York (12.7 million visitors) into fifth position for the first time in three years, while Seoul (12.39 million visitors) leapfrogged three spots into seventh place.
Home to half of the world’s top ten most visited cities, Asia Pacific’s success as a global travel hub has been supported by strong intra-regional travel. Both Singapore and Seoul tracked significant growths, aided by visitors from neighboring countries, particularly those from China. In the Index’s eight-year history, China has grown from being passive contributors to the region’s travel sector to the main driver of growth for visitor arrivals into Asia Pacific’s top destinations.
Overall, forecasts for continued growth in 2017 are positive except for New York, with Tokyo expecting the largest boom.
|Destination||2016 International Overnight Visitors||Forecast for 2017|
|1||Bangkok||19.41 million visitors||4.0 percent|
|2||London||19.06 million visitors||5.0 percent|
|3||Paris||15.45 million visitors||4.4 percent|
|4||Dubai||14.87 million visitors||7.7 percent|
|5||Singapore||13.11 million visitors||2.6 percent|
|6||New York||12.70 million visitors||(-2.4 percent)|
|7||Seoul||12.39 million visitors||0.4 percent|
|8||Kuala Lumpur||11.28 million visitors||7.2 percent|
|9||Tokyo||11.15 million visitors||12.2 percent|
|10||Istanbul||9.16 million visitors||0.9 percent|
Building the Most Desired Destination Cities of Tomorrow
Globally, international overnight visitor arrivals and spend in the 132 destinations have grown by 55.2 percent and 41.1 percent respectively since 2009, significantly outpacing real GDP growth during the same period. More than half of the top destination cities reported an increase in spend consistent with or greater than GDP increases between 2009 and 2016, and are primed to be engines of broad economic growth for countries.
The difference between the Global Top 10 destinations by arrivals and the Top 10 fastest growing destinations continues to demonstrate the increasing importance of watching Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa develop into future destination leaders. Osaka leads as the fastest growing city at 24.0 percent, fueled by strong growth in visitors from within and outside the region including the United States, China, Malaysia and South Korea. In addition, Jakarta and Hanoi’s entrance into the list of top 10 fastest growing cities point to Southeast Asia’s rising significance as a key travel hub.
The forecasted top 10 fastest growing cities by CAGR (2009-2016) include:
|Destination||Growth in visitors by CAGR from 2009-2016|
|4||Abu Dhabi||18.9 percent|
Insights into Purpose of Travel and Local Spend
Across the Top 20 destination cities, leisure was the main purpose for the majority of travel. Kuala Lumpur led the pack, with 92.2 percent of visitors there on vacation. Conversely, nearly half (48.4 percent) of Shanghai’s visitors are there on business.
Looking closer at the Top 10 destination cities, expenditure categories identified in the Index illustrate how people are spending when they visit:
- Istanbul stands out as the only city with the greatest percent of visitor spend going to Dining (33.6 percent)
- People spend most on shopping while in Seoul (56.5 percent), followed by London (46.7 percent), Tokyo (43.1 percent), Kuala Lumpur (31.3 percent) and Dubai (31.0 percent)
- Travelers can expect lodging to be the lion’s share of expenditure when visiting Paris (44.8 percent) and New York (31.8 percent)
- With efficient transport systems in place, less budget is spent on local transit in London (4.3 percent), Singapore (4.6 percent), and Tokyo (6.9 percent)