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World tourism growth outpacing GDP, says Mastercard

Global overnight visitor arrivals across more than 130 cities featured in a new study rose by more than 55% since the financial slump in 2009.

The rise in worldwide tourism outpaced real GDP growth over the period to 2016, the annual Mastercard Destination Cities Index reveals.

Tokyo is expected to see the largest increase in tourists this year with a 12.2% jump from 11.15 million arrivals in 2016.

The Japanese capital was the ninth most popular city last year with Bangkok topping the table with 19.41 million overnight visitors, just above London with 19.06 million. The UK capital is projected to attract 5% more arrivals in 2017 but a 4.6% drop in spending.

The other cities attracting the most visitors were Paris, Dubai, Singapore, New York, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul.

More than half of the top destination cities reported an increase in spend by overnight visitors consistent with or greater than GDP growth, the study shows.

Dubai attracted the biggest increase in overnight visitor spend of $28.50 billion, followed New York at $17.02 billion and London at $16.09 billion. But London is the only city in the top ten projected to see a fall in spend this year,

Mastercard calculates in the report published today.

The fastest growing destination cities since 2009 are dominated by those in Asia and the Middle East, led by Osaka, Chengdu, Colombo, Abu Dhabi, Jakarta, Tokyo, Hanoi, Riyadh and Taipai. Lima also makes the top ten growth chart.

The majority of travel is conducted for leisure across the top 20 destination cities with the exception of Shanghai where nearly half (48.4%) of visitors are travelling on business.

Conversely, Kuala Lumpur has the greatest percentage of holidaymakers, at 92.2%.

Dining makes up the greatest percentage of visitor spend in Seoul (47.0%), Istanbul (33.6%) and Prague (29.3%).

People spend more on shopping while in London (46.7%), Osaka (43.4%) & Tokyo (43.1%).

Accommodation can be the most expensive part of the trip when visiting Paris (44.8%), Milan (40.4%) and Rome (40.4%).

With efficient transport systems in place, less budget is spent on transit in London (4.3%), Singapore (4.6%) and Hong Kong (4.6%).

Mastercard enterprise partnerships president Carlos Menendez said: “We are seeing more people than ever visiting cities for business or leisure.

“At the same time, we know that people expect their experiences when traveling to be both seamless and personal.

“The call to action is clear. Cities that apply technology to simplify services and connect people with their passion points can become true destination cities and realise the benefits of increased visitors and greater spending.”

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