MasterCard ranks Bangkok as world’s most visited city

THAILAND FOCUS | October 3, 2016

2mastercard4Bangkok’s enduring allure was underscored last week as United States-based MasterCard announced that the Thai capital will edge out London this year to become the world’s most visited city for the second time since 2009, according to the MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index.

Bangkok is projected to receive 21.47 million visitors in 2016 with roughly 85 percent of them being tourists, according to MasterCard, surpassing an expected 19.8 million who will visit London. Thailand’s tourism sector has been a national strength and an international success story, and Bangkok serves as the main international gateway to the Kingdom.

“The outstanding strength for Bangkok is a total experience for tourists that means foreigners love to visit the city because they can enjoy many activities and taste Thai food and experience a unique culture,” Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic adviser at MasterCard, said yesterday.

Surprisingly, the United States was the third largest source country for arrivals to Bangkok, according to Mastercard’s data. China and Japan ranked first and second and the number of visitors from China dwarfed all others as the travel bug has bitten the new middle class in the world’s most populous country.

The U.S. is the second biggest source country for tourists in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole, the Index reported. It has consistently been the number one non-Asia source country for tourism in Asia since 2009. The United Kingdom was the only other non-Asia country in the top ten for source countries, coming in at number nine.

MasterCard gathered its information from national tourism boards. The Index looks at the total number of international overnight arrivals, cross-border spending, and the total number of nights spent at each destination.
In the top five, London finished ahead of Paris, Dubai and New York. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul along with Istanbul rounded out the top ten, underscoring the growth of travel in the Asia-Pacific region.

That conforms to projections from Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers who have forecast that air traffic in the Asia-Pacific region will grow at a faster pace than any other region in the world in the coming decade.

Although Bangkok topped all other cities in numbers of tourists, it did not finish first in terms of tourist spending. That title was taken by Dubai, which leapfrogged over London, New York, Bangkok and Paris.

Yuwa said that Bangkok’s revenue would remain behind other cities because costs are lower in Thailand. He said that according to MasterCard’s findings, revenue for Bangkok would be $14.8 billion this year while London would earn $19.8 billion. Tourists’ average spending per trip for Bangkok is $691 and for London it is $994.