Dubai - Abu Dhabi has become the world's third fastest growing destination for international visitors
With a projected international visitor traffic of 15.27 million in 2016, Dubai jumped to the world's top rank based on visitor spending of $31.3 billion, according to the annual Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index released on Thursday.
Dubai also ranks as the world's fourth-ranked destination city by international overnight visitor arrivals after Bangkok, London, and Paris, while Abu Dhabi has become the world's third fastest growing destination for international visitors.
"The biggest surprise in this year's Index is Dubai's jump to the top rank based on international visitor spending of $31.3 billion, far exceeding the second ranked London estimated at $19.8 billion," Mastercard said.
According to the study, Bangkok is projected to receive 21.47 million international overnight visitors in 2016, just ahead of second-ranked London which is to receive 19.88 million visitors.
The British capital topped the 2015 ranking of global destinations, but Mastercard did not say why some of its shine had rubbed off for travellers this year. The two cities have topped the ranking for most of its history.
Forecasted international overnight visitors to the rest of the top 10 cities include: Paris - 18.03 million visitors (third); New York - 12.75 million visitors (fifth); Singapore - 12.11 million visitors; Kuala Lumpur - 12.02 million visitors; Istanbul - 11.95 million visitors; Tokyo - 11.70 million visitors, and Seoul - 10.20 million visitors.
"The way people travel and spend across borders indicates just how interconnected and important the world's cities are," said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, Mastercard. "As the planning and experience of the trip become increasingly important, Mastercard is bringing all these pieces together seamlessly through innovation and connections."
The Index provides more than a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world. It projects visitor volume and spend estimates for the 2016 calendar year, while delivering a deeper understanding of how people travel and spend around the world. As cross-border travel and spending continue to grow at a faster pace than the world GDP, the world's cities continue to be engines of broader economic growth. The difference between the global top 10 and the fastest growing top 10 destination cities suggests that Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa have become increasingly important to the global economic landscape. Many cities measured on the Index have increasing growth trajectories, indicating the growing interest in both visiting and living in cities, Mastercard said.
Osaka has shown the strongest growth in international visitors (24.15 per cent) over the last seven years. Other cities that made the forecasted top 10 fastest growing cities include: Chengdu - 20.14 per cent; Abu Dhabi - 19.81 per cent; Colombo - 19.57 per cent; Tokyo - 18.48 per cent; Riyadh - 16.45 per cent; Taipei - 14.53 per cent; Xi'an - 14.20 per cent; Tehran - 12.98 per cent, and Xiamen - 12.93 per cent.
For the first time, the Index explores whether visitors travel for business or leisure as well as insights into how international visitors spend, including dining, lodging and shopping. The 2016 Index shows that among the top 20 cities, more people travel internationally for leisure, except to Shanghai.
Visitors to the top 20 overwhelmingly spent more while shopping, as opposed to dining, except in Europe, where meals captured greater share of spend in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Istanbul, Milan, Paris, Prague and Vienna.