The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2014.
London tops the list as the destination of choice for international travelers for the third time in four years.
Rounding out the top five cities are Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai, which are benefiting from a surge in international travel fueled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and rising need for business travel.
According to the report, London is projected to host 18.7 million international visitors in 2014 – 300,000 more visitors than the 2013 top destination city Bangkok.
Forecasted visitors to the rest of the top five cities include:
Bangkok – 16.42 million
Paris – 15.57 million visitors
Singapore – 12.47 million visitors
Dubai – 11.95 million visitors
Europe boasts two of the top five cities, London and Paris, with Bangkok, Singapore, and Dubai making up the global top five. Overall, Europe boasts eight of the top 20 destination cities by international overnight visitors. Istanbul (7th), Barcelona (11th), Amsterdam (12th), Milan (13th), Rome (14th) and Vienna (17th) all make the cut.
Chart 3 and Table 2 below show the rankings for the top 20 global destinations in terms of international visitor spending. London is the top ranked city in terms of visitor spending, which is estimated to be US$19.27 billion in 2014. London retained its top ranked position in visitor spending in 2013 despite losing the top ranked position to Bangkok in visitor numbers last year. New York and Paris followed in second and third respectively. Singapore moves above Bangkok to claim fourth. Madrid moved up from 16th, displacing Sydney, while San Francisco moved up to 19th, displacing Munich.
Across the globe, a few key trends stood out, including:
Asia/Pacific – The region is home to half of the top ten destination cities.
Europe – This year, 67 percent of London’s international visitors are from other European cities – a strong indication of Europe’s strengthening economy.
Latin America – Lima built on its position as 2013’s fastest growing city in the region, retaining the top spot on the Latin America lineup.
Middle East and Africa – Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the global top ten, on track to overtake Paris and Singapore within five years.
North America – The region has been fairly consistent since the creation of the index, with Chicago forecasted to be the fastest growing American city this year.
Some of the major cultural events in London this year drawing millions of international visitors include ‘Ming: 50 Years that changed China’ at the British Museum, ‘Constable: The Making of a Master’ at the V&A and ‘Rembrandt: The Final Years’ at the National Gallery.
Among many other 2014 events expected to capture worldwide attention is the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of World War I with the re-opening of the Imperial War Museum this month and the ‘Great War in Portraits’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Together with an exhibition about fictional detective Sherlock Holmes at the Museum of London and the Thames River Festival in September, this year offers a feast of activities for visitors.