From The Press

  • Five Asian cities – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Hong Kong – make it into Global Destination Cities Index top 10

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 Colombo leads the pack as the fastest growing city in terms of international overnight visitor numbers in the annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index released yesterday. 

The rapid rise in tourism after the end of Sri Lanka’s long running civil war brought about Colombo’s double-digit cumulative annual growth rate over the last six years. Seven of the top 10 fastest growing cities by visitor number over this period are in Asia. 

Forecasted top 10 fastest growing cities are: 1. Colombo – 21.1%, 2. Chengdu – 20.7%, 3. Abu Dhabi – 20.4%, 4. Osaka – 19.8%, 5. Riyadh – 18.0%, 6. Xi An – 16.2%, 7. Taipei – 14.9%, 8. Tokyo – 14.6%, 9. Lima – 13.9%, and 10. Ho ChiMinh City – 12.9%
In addition, Asian cities continue to dominate the index, making up half of the top 10. Bangkok has retained its position at number two with 18.24 million international overnight visitors and is catching up with top-ranked city, London. 

Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Hong Kong round off the top 10, taking seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th place respectively.
Forecasted international overnight visitors to the top 10 cities: 1. London – 18.82 million, 2. Bangkok – 18.24 million, 3. Paris – 16.06 million, 4. Dubai – 14.26 million, 5. Istanbul – 12.56 million, 6. New York – 12.27 million, 7. Singapore – 11.88 million, 8. Kuala Lumpur – 11.12 million, 9. Seoul – 10.35 million, and 10. Hong Kong – 8.66 million.
Driven by insights into travel patterns, the Global Destinations Cities Index provides a ranking of the 132 most visited cities from around the world. More than just a travel tracker, the Index provides an understanding of how people move around the world and the importance of the world’s cities as homes, destinations and engines of growth.
The report can be downloaded in full at

MasterCard South Asia Executive Director Vikas Varma commented: “Colombo’s ranking as the fastest growing city on MasterCard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index reflects the rising appeal of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination. Having been in the market for over 25 years, MasterCard sees great potential in the island nation. We will continue to showcase Sri Lanka as a premier tourist destination across our network, offering several exciting benefits and privileges for travellers.”
Chief Economist and MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth Academic Advisory Council Chair Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong said: “Against a background of generally weak global economic growth and anemic pace of exports, a vibrant tourism sector is providing a powerful boost to income and job creation in Asia Pacific. As shown by MasterCard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index, Asian cities dominate among the leading destinations in the world in attracting international visitors arriving by air. Even more astonishing is that seven out of the world’s top 10 fastest growing destination cities are in Asia Pacific, which is a strong leading indicator of their continuing outstanding performance in the years to come.”

The majority of visitors to cities in Asia originate from within Asia Pacific. This may help to explain the continued growth of visitor numbers over the last five years as European and North American markets experienced economic slowdown. The top five feeder cities to Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in 2015 are all in Asia Pacific. However, this shows the lack of diversity in the origin of visitors to many destinations in Asia, which presents risks to long-term resilience to any global economic shocks. 
The challenge going forward for many of these otherwise very successful destination cities is to diversify their sources of visitors while maintaining their robust rates of growth. Nevertheless, globally, international overnight visitor numbers and their cross-border spending have consistently grown faster than world real GDP since 2009.

The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2015.
Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.
This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on MasterCard volumes or transactional data.