The Index carries out a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world and predicts the total number of travellers heading to each of them for the year.
London is projected to receive 18.82m international visitors in 2015, pipping second-placed Bangkok to the post with 18.24m. The two cities have been at the top of the list for the five years the Index has been operating.
The report arranges cities by the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these visitors in the cities, providing visitor and passenger growth forecasts for the year.
MasterCard said custom-made algorithms, which assess public data, pay special attention to eliminating the hub effects for destination cities like Singapore, Frankfurt, Dubai and Amsterdam.
The top ten was as follows:
(1) London – 18.82m visitors
(2) Bangkok – 18.24m visitors
(3) Paris – 16.06m visitors
(4) Dubai – 14.26m visitors
(5) Istanbul – 12.56m visitors
(6) New York – 12.27m visitors
(7) Singapore – 11.88m visitors
(8) Kuala Lumpur – 11.2m visitors
(9) Seoul – 10.35m visitors
(10) Hong Kong – 8.66m visitors
While London and Bangkok’s visitor number were close, guests were projected to spend much more in the English capital – $20.2bn USD as opposed to $12.4bn in Thailand.
Ann Cairns, president of international markets at MasterCard, said: “This year’s study helps us understand just how interconnected the world’s cities are and the significant role they play in connecting and empowering greater numbers of people than every before.”
Some 383m overnight trips are predicted to occur between the 132 cities during 2015, with spend of around $260bn during the visitors.
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The report suggested that demand from international travellers, alongside research from the UN on World Urbanisation Prospects saying two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, meant there would be increasingly pressing infrastructure needs to cope with expectations.
Elsewhere in the research, three of the four fastest-growing destination cities between 2009 and 2015 were in the Asia/Pacific region – Colombo, Chengdu and Osaka.
The Middle East was also home to some of the fastest-growing areas – Dubai was one of the fastest growing cities in the global top ten, while Abu Dhabi was the third fastest growing destination city overall between 2009 and 2015.
Across Europe, Istanbul was the most “diversified destination” with half of its international overnight visitors coming from 33 different cities.
In North America, Houston has been the fastest growing city since 2009 and it was the only city to record double-digit growth.
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