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The most popular cities in the world

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Asia-Pacific’s top destination city for air travel, and the world’s second top destination city after first-ranked London, the newly released MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for 2014 shows names the Thai Capital Bangkok as number two.

According to Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Global Economic Advisor, MasterCard, Bangkok and London have vied in recent years for top ranking in the Global Destination Cities Index, which measures international visitor arrivals with at least one overnight stay in that particular city.

Bangkok beat out London for the top ranking in the 2013 Index, becoming the first Asian city to top the list. Dr. Hedrick-Wong said, “Bangkok remains a leading global destination city in 2014 despite a drop in air travel that is likely attributable to the recent political turmoil in the Thai capital.”

He added, “Bangkok’s resilience as a global destination city is one of the big takeaways from the Global Destination Cities Index for 2014. So, maybe we just might see it back on top next year.”

According to the study, London is projected to receive 18.7 million international visitors in 2014. Forecasted visitors to the rest of the top five cities include:

Bangkok – 16.42 million
Paris – 15.57 million visitors
Singapore – 12.47 million visitors
Dubai – 11.95 million visitors

In previous years, Bangkok has shown among the world’s biggest gains in international air travel, with double digit percentage increases in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, the city saw a 16.7% increase in international overnight visitors.

For the top five destination cities in the Asia-Pacific, Bangkok is in the top rank. It is followed by Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Seoul, remaining unchanged from 2013.

In terms of cross-border spending, Bangkok is ranked fifth in the world and second in the Asia-Pacific, with US$13 billion projected in international visitor expenditure for 2014.

Commenting on the Index, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Thawatchai Arunyik said, “It is rather unfortunate that our internal issues led to this drop in Bangkok’s rankings. However, it only motivates us to make an extra effort to bring the visitors back, as we will be doing with our “Thailand Happiness” grand comeback party in Bangkok between 25-26 July.”

Dr. Hedrick-Wong said, “All these cities are benefiting from a surge in international travel fuelled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and rising need for business travel. The Index also indicates this surge will continue, even with more technology and collaboration tools available to businesses.”

Ann Cairns, President of International Markets, MasterCard, said, “The Index points to a continued strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal travel. The recognition of this year’s top international destinations reinforces the continued importance of cities as business, cultural and economic hubs.”

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