In a world of rising nationalism, international travel takes on greater importance — breaking down barriers, broadening our horizons and driving economic impact felt throughout the world’s cities.
For the past decade, Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index has offered important analysis of travel to and within cities. This year, the top cities are Bangkok, London and Paris. This underscores the importance of robust infrastructure, both business and leisure attractions and a vibrant and strong local culture.
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The Mastercard Index, which expanded this year to look at 162 cities globally, is not simply a ranking of the top travel destinations. Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2017 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a growth forecast for 2018 and —for the first time — a view into average length of stay and amount spent per day.
With the global economy buzzing, the annual growth of international overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities was up in 2017 except for Seoul, which saw a dip. The forecast for 2018 indicates across-the-board growth, with Istanbul expecting the largest uptick in visitors.
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With roughly 20 million international overnight visitors, Bangkok retains its hold of the top spot this year and is unlikely to be bested due to a strong projected growth of 9,6% for 2018. Interestingly, visitors tend to stay in Bangkok 4.7 nights and spend $173 (R2451,70 at $1/R14,17) per day, on average.
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However, not all cities are created equal when it comes to the amount visitors spend in the local economy. Dubai continues to be the top ranking destination city based on overnight visitor spend, with visitors spending a whopping $537 (R7610,18) per day on average.
It is joined in the Top 10 with newcomers Makkah, Saudi Arabia, which debuts in the number two spot, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Phuket, Thailand. Of the most visited cities, Istanbul comes in with the lowest spend per day at just $108 (R1530,54) on average. And with the Turkish Lira currently being very weak against the SA Rand (R2,36 South African Rand for 1 Lira), it might be the best time for Saffas to go.
Istanbul New Airport opens its doors on October 29th with a capacity of 200 million passengers and flights to more than 350 destinations.
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“International travel is crucial to many urban economies, enriching the lives of both residents and tourists. The bar is rising for cities to innovate to provide both a memorable and authentic experience,” said Miguel Gamiño Jr., executive vice president, Global Cities for Mastercard.
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