Bangkok Worlds No.1 Most Popular City for Tourists, Phuket No. 12, Pattaya No.18
Bangkok welcomes over 20 million overseas guests last year and maintained its position as the world’s most visited city.
Mastercard’s annual Global Destination Cities Index placed London a close second with 19.8 million visitors and third places goes to Paris with 17.4 million visitors. Dubai, Singapore and New York completed the top six, which has remained unchanged since 2016.
Seoul was the only change in the top ten this year. The city slipped to tenth place and pushed Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Istanbul to seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
The world's most-visited cities
1) Bangkok 20.05 million
2) London 19.83 million
3) Paris 17.44 million
4) Dubai 15.79 million
5) Singapore 13.91 million
6) New York 13.13 million
7) Kuala Lumpur 12.58 million
8) Tokyo 11.93 million
9) Istanbul 10.7 million
10) Seoul 9.54 million
11) Antalya 9.42 million
12) Phuket 9.29 million
13) Mecca 9.18 million
14) Hong Kong 9.03 million
15) Milan 8.81 million
16) Palma de Mallorca 8.78 million
17) Barcelona 8.69 million
18) Pattaya 8.67 million
19) Osaka 8.42 million
20) Bali 8.3 million
New arrivals to the top 20 include Pattaya, Palma de Mallorca, Mecca, Phuket and Antalya. Out are Prague, Vienna, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Rome. Thailand boasts three of the top 20 most visited cities in the world.
Since the 2012 rankings, some of the cities that have been ousted from the list are Madrid, Frankfurt, Los Angeles and Beijing. All were once part of the top 20 but no longer made the list. Dubai has made a jumped from eighth to fourth and Osaka is rivaling Tokyo.
With Pattaya and Phuket at the upper end of the ranking this reflects a larger rise of annual visitors to Thailand. According to the Unite Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) overseas arrivals to the country have increased by 122 percent since 2010. With arrivals jumping from 15.9 million to 35.4 million, this makes Thailand the 10th most visited nation on Earth.
The popularity of Antalya has risen to the fact that the city is located on the southern coast of Turkey which is the key gateway to the Turquoise Coast and exceedingly popular with sun seekers. Turkey was the world’s eighth most visited country last year, and attracted 37.6 million visitors – up from 30.3 in 2017.
Palma de Mallorca has suffered from “over tourism” in the past few years. Fed up with crowds and cruise ships, angry locals targeted hotels this summer and an anti-tourism protest was held at Palma’s airport. Slogans such as “tourism kills the city” have been seen posted.
Mecca's impressive ranking is due to its importance as a city of pilgrimage for Muslims.
Cities like Venice could be interpreted absent by the fact that the Mastercard index counts only overnight visits. Mainly day-trippers visit the city.
Across the world over 1.32 billion overseas trips were made by travellers according to UNWTO statistics. This is an increase of almost 7 percent from 2016 – The largest year-on-year rise since 2010.
Although Asia has many emerging destinations, the world’s second smallest continent in terms of land area – Europe -- greeted a whopping 51 percent of all overseas travelers last year.
Europe maintains six of the world’s 10 most visited countries, with France at number one, Spain in second place, Italy fifth, UK seventh, Turkey eighth and Germany at ninth place. Making the top 20 is another five European countries, Austria, Greece, Russia, Poland and the Netherlands.