Defining What Makes a City a Destination

Mastercard Unveils Which Cities Benefit the Most from International Travel

The 2017 Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index pinpoints where international travelers go and how they spend when visiting new cities. For more information please view our Digital Press Kit: (Graphic: Business Wire)

PURCHASE, N.Y.--()--Around the world, tourism is driving the economic engines of growth and development. Since 2009, international travel and spending by overnight visitors to cities have grown faster than real GDP. To help cities understand key drivers and unlock the value of tourism, Mastercard today released its annual Mastercard Destination Cities Index.

The Index is more than just a ranking of the 132 top destination cities of today and tomorrow. Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2016 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a forecast for growth in 2017, insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world.

The Global Top 10 Destination Cities

International overnight visitors to the Top 10 destination cities were up in 2016 overall. Forecasts for continued growth in 2017, with Tokyo expecting the largest growth in visitors among the Top 10.

      2016 International Overnight Visitors     Growth Forecast for 2017
Bangkok     19.41 million visitors     4.0 percent
London     19.06 million visitors     5.0 percent
Paris     15.45 million visitors     4.4 percent
Dubai     14.87 million visitors     7.7 percent
Singapore     13.11 million visitors     2.6 percent
New York     12.70 million visitors     (-2.4 percent)
Seoul     12.39 million visitors     0.4 percent
Kuala Lumpur     11.28 million visitors     7.2 percent
Tokyo     11.15 million visitors     12.2 percent
Istanbul     9.16 million visitors     0.9 percent

Spending Power: Destination Cities as Engines of Economic Growth

Since 2009, more than half of the top destination cities reported an increase in spend by overnight visitors consistent with or greater than GDP growth. These cities benefit greatly from tourism and are primed to be engines of broad economic growth for countries.

      2016 International Overnight Visitor Spend     Growth Forecast for 2017
Dubai     $28.50 billion USD     10.2 percent
New York     $17.02 billion USD     1.5 percent
London     $16.09 billion USD     (-4.6 percent)
Singapore     $15.69 billion USD     0.3 percent
Bangkok     $14.08 billion USD     10.9 percent
Paris     $12.03 billion USD     4.9 percent
Tokyo     $11.28 billion USD     3.7 percent
Taipei     $9.91 billion USD     6.9 percent
Seoul     $9.38 billion USD     1.8 percent
Barcelona     $8.90 billion USD     6.9 percent

Destination Cities of Tomorrow

Globally, international overnight visitor arrivals across all 132 destinations have grown by 55.2 percent since 2009, significantly outpacing real GDP growth during the same period. The fastest growing destinations continue to demonstrate the importance of watching Asia/Pacific and the Middle East for future destination leaders.

      Growth in visitors from 2009-2016
Osaka     24.0 percent
Chengdu     22.7 percent
Colombo     20.3 percent
Abu Dhabi     18.9 percent
Jakarta     18.2 percent
Tokyo     17.7 percent
Hanoi     16.4 percent
Riyadh     15.9 percent
Lima     15.2 percent
Taipei     14.5 percent

Insights into Purpose of Travel and Local Spend

Across the Top 20 destination cities, the majority of travel is conducted for leisure purposes, except in Shanghai where nearly half (48.4 percent) of visitors are travelling on business. Conversely, Kuala Lumpur has the greatest percentage of visitors, 92.2 percent, there on vacation.

The Index has identified expenditure categories that illustrate how people are spending when they visit the Top 20 destination cities:

  • Dining consumes the greatest percentage of visitor spend in Istanbul (33.6 percent), & Prague (29.3 percent)
  • People spend more on shopping while in Seoul (56.5 percent), London (46.7 percent), Osaka (43.4 percent) & Tokyo (43.1 percent)
  • Lodging can be the most expensive part of the trip when visiting Paris (44.8 percent), Milan (40.4 percent) & Rome (40.4 percent)
  • With efficient transport systems in place, less budget is spent on transit in London (4.3 percent), Singapore (4.6 percent), & Hong Kong (4.6 percent)

“We are seeing more people than ever visiting cities for business or leisure. At the same time, we know that people expect their experiences when traveling to be both seamless and personal,” said Carlos Menendez, president of enterprise partnerships at Mastercard. “The call to action is clear. Cities that apply technology to simplify services and connect people with their passion points can become true destination cities and realize the benefits of increased visitors and greater spending."

Whether people visit cities for business or leisure, Mastercard is improving the travel experience by:

To learn more about the top locations on the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2017, please visit:

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 2016, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2017.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities.

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

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE:MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.


Mastercard Communications
Ryan Erenhouse, +1-914-249-3176

Release Summary

Mastercard releases annual Mastercard Destination Cities Index. The Index is more than just a ranking of the 132 top destination cities of today & tom



Mastercard Communications
Ryan Erenhouse, +1-914-249-3176