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[ 2018-10-03 ]

Half Of Top 10 Destinations In Index Are Asia Pacific Cities

Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index has for the past 10 years offered important research of international travel to and within cities. This years index continues to feature Asia Pacific destinations with five cities making up half of the top 10 destinations.   Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul all make this distinguished list.

Extended this year to look at 162 cities the Mastercard Index takes an in-depth look at visitor volume and spending for the 2017 calendar year.   It also provides a growth analysis for 2018 and for the first time views into amounts spent per day and average lengths of stay in each city.

International overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities was up in 2017, except for Seoul which dropped from seventh to tenth place. Forecasts for 2018 show a sweeping growth in Asia with Bangkok expecting the largest visit increase of 9.6 percent.

Bangkok remains in the top with over 20 million international overnight visitors in 2017.   Research shows visitors stay 4.7 nights and spend USD 173 average per day.


The Global Top 10 Destination Cities – Asia

Global Rank

Asian Destinations

2017 International Overnight Visitors

Growth Forecast for 2018

Average Length of Stay

Average Spend Per Day



20.05 million


4.7 nights




13.91 million


4.3 nights



Kuala Lumpur

12.58 million


5.5 nights




11.93 million


6.5 nights




9.54 million


4.2 nights




Topping the list of origin countries are tourists from China. Must-see locations for Chinese tourists are destinations to Asia Pacific and Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Pattaya and Bali.   With an amazing 56.1 percent increase in the last eight years, Phuket is the most popular destination for these tourists. (2009 – 2017, CAGR basis)




Asian Destinations

Percentage share of arrivals from China





Kuala Lumpur













Southeast Asia is attracting some of the highest spending visitors, as it becomes one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world. The top three Southeast Asian destinations by expenditure are Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket, which secured US $43.85 billion of total spending by international overnight tourists.   Known as a world-class shopper’s destination in Asia Pacific, Singapore retained the lead in visitor spending, attracting the highest visitor spending by visitors at US $286 per day.

Phuket, Thailand, a newcomer to the index, debuted number 10 with an average of US $239. This is the second highest in the sub-region.


Top Cities by Dollars Spent – Asia

Global Rank

Asian Destinations

2017 International Overnight Visitor Spend (USD)

Forecast for 2018

Average Spend by Day



$17.02 billion





$16.36 billion





$11.91 billion





$10.46 billion




Expenditure categories have been identified by the Index and spotlight how visitors are spending when they visit the Top Asian destination cities:


  • Across the Asia Pacific region, visitors to Bali spent the highest percentage of their total expenditure on accommodation (44.6 percent) and the least on shopping (13.4 percent).
  • Visitors to Hong Kong (22.2 percent) and Osaka (22.4 percent) spent the most on food, whereas visitors to Singapore spent the least on dining (12.9 percent).
  • People spent the most on shopping when visiting Osaka (43.4 percent), Tokyo (43.1 percent), and Seoul (47.4 percent).


Over the past eight years Japanese cities Okinawa (39.2 percent), Kyoto (27.8 percent) and Osaka (23.6 percent) are the fastest growth destination cities in Asia Pacific. This shows the importance of a robust infrastructure, leisure attractions and a strong local culture can drive visitor arrivals. (2009 – 2017, CAGR basis).

Mastercard works with a broad range of partners including tourism officials, urban planners, banks and merchants to:


  • Identify and address urban challenges through scalable solutions in digital inclusion and economic development; Mastercard recently launched City Possible, a global platform for cities, research institutions and private sector organizations to address common challenges through collaboration.
  • Simplify access to key urban services such as public transportation; in over 100 cities (and growing), visitors and locals can use the contactless Mastercard they already carry to access trains and buses.
  • Help people traverse the globe with peace of mind, providing seamless planning, conveniences and connectivity at their destination and worry-free acceptance at millions of locations around the globe.
  • Create unique experiences across food, entertainment and shopping in 42 Priceless Cities around the globe, including Bangkok, London, Paris and many others throughout the Index.



About the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index
The Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities in 2017, and gives international overnight visitor growth forecasts for 2018.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 162 destination cities.
Forecasts are based upon the weighted average of the national level tourism forecasts and the actual 2018 monthly data at the destination level, which is available to the latest month before release.

This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on Mastercard volumes or transactional data.