For the third year in a row, Bangkok is the top international destination in the world, welcoming 20.5 million visitors in 2017 and holding its title as the world's most visited city.
That’s according to Mastercard’s annual Global Destination Cities Index, which has analysed the travel habits and destination choices of its users for the past ten years.
Asia Pacific continues to grow with popularity with five rankings in this year's top ten destinations.
The index expanded this year to 162 of the world's largest cities, with findings drawing on visitor volume and overnight spend for the calendar year.
The Thai capital was closely followed by European cities Paris and London with Dubai, Singapore and New York rounding out a top six that has remained unchanged since 2016.
Despite the popularity of Asia Pacific destinations, no Australian cities made an appearance in the top 20.
The Global Top 10 Destination Cities
|City||2017 International Overnight Visitors||Growth Forecast for 2018||Average Length of Stay||Average Spend Per Day|
|Bangkok||20.05 million||9.6%||4.7 nights||$241|
|London||19.83 million||3.0%||5.8 nights||$213|
|Paris||17.44 million||2.9%||2.5 nights||$420|
|Dubai||15.79 million||5.5%||3.5 nights||$749|
|Singapore||13.91 million||4.0%||4.3 nights||$399|
|New York||13.13 million||4.1%||8.3 nights||$205|
|Kuala Lumpur||12.58 million||7.5%||5.5 nights||$173|
|Tokyo||11.93 million||1.6%||6.5 nights||$215|
|Istanbul||10.7 million||19.7%||5.8 nights||$150|
|Seoul||9.54 million||6.1%||4.2 nights||$252|
A record 1.32 billion overseas trips were made by travellers around the world last year, according to UN World Trade Organisation statistics released last month.
That represents an increase of 7 per cent on 2016, the biggest year-on-year rise since 2010.
“International travel is crucial to many urban economies, enriching the lives of both residents and tourists,” Mastercard executive vice president Miguel Gamiño Jr said.
“The bar is rising for cities to innovate to provide both a memorable and authentic experience.”
“We’re partnering closely with cities around the world to ensure they have insights and technologies to improve how they attract and cater to tourists while preserving what makes them so special in the first place.”
While there are many emerging destinations in Asia, the world’s second smallest continent, Europe, welcomed 51 per cent of all overseas travellers last year.
Top Cities by Dollars Spent
|City||2017 International Overnight Visitor Spend||Forecast for 2018||Average Spend by Day|
|Palma de Mallorca||$16.84bn||16.2%||$309|
While Bangkok was the world’s most visited city in 2017, Dubai was where visitors spent the most cash.
Dubai leads in overnight international visitor spending, with a total of $41.83 billion spent over the year, at an average of $756 spent per day.
The UAE capital also welcomed 15.79 million overnight visitors last year and with a projected growth rate of 5.5 percent, ranking fourth.
Mastercard said that the results underscore “the importance of robust infrastructure, both business and leisure attractions and strong local culture”.