ASIA-Pacific destinations weighed in strongly in this year's list of top travel destinations, but Bangkok stole the show by beating out defending champion London to become the world's number one city for travel.
The third annual Global Destination Cities Index by MasterCard Worldwide measured and ranked 132 cities in terms of total international arrivals and cross-border spending in destination cities, giving visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2013.
According to this year’s study, the top five cities are: Bangkok, London, Paris, Singapore and New York.
Significantly, Asia-Pacific registered strong performance this year. The region is responsible for the largest number of destination cities in the index, with 42 of the 132 cities measured coming from Asia.
Rank-wise, Bangkok is followed by Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. Five cities in the top 10 are also located in the Greater China region.
Tokyo showed strong recovery in 2012, following contractions in tourism performance in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disasters. It posted seventh in arrivals and third in spending regionally.
Ann Cairns, president of international markets, MasterCard Worldwide, said the index reflected “the rebalance the globe is undergoing” due largely to the rise of emerging markets and electronic payments “which are enabling more people from more places to participate in the global economy than ever before”.
“Bangkok brought with it great momentum from last year. Its ascent to number one is not only a first for Asia, it’s emblematic of the rise of the Global South, which encompasses much of Africa and Asia as well as South America,” said Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor for MasterCard Worldwide and author of the report.