Top 10: Most Popular Destinations in the World


With the release of the Mastercard Destination Cities Index, places such as Bangkok, London and Paris proved to be the most popular destination cities for travellers in 2016.

The index looked at 132 countries, focusing on visitor volume in 2016 and “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 index shows the overall growth in international overnight visitors to these destination cities. Bangkok was ranked the highest, with 19.41 million visitors, followed by London with 19.06 million and Paris (15.45 million).

More than half the cities in the index saw an increase in spend by overnight travellers since 2009. “These cities benefit greatly from tourism and are primed to be engines of broad economic growth for countries.”

The Asia/Pacific and the Middle East regions had the highest number of fastest-growing destinations out of the 132 cities. “The fastest-growing destinations continue to demonstrate the importance of watching Asia/Pacific and the Middle East for future destination leaders.” Osaka, which is on the Japanese island of Honshu, showed the highest growth potential, with 24%.

When it comes to business versus leisure travel, Shanghai saw the largest percentage of business travellers, at 48%, while Kuala Lumpur had the largest share of leisure travellers, an impressive 92.2%.

Most Popular Destinations in the World

Top 10 destination cities

2016 international overnight visitors Growth forecast for 2017
Bangkok 19.41 million 4%
London 19.06 million 5%
Paris 15.45 million 4.4%
Dubai 14.87 million 7.7%
Singapore 13.11 million 2.6%
New York 12.70 million (-2.4%)
Seoul 12.39 million 0.4%
Kuala Lumpur 11.28 million 7.2%
Tokyo 11.15 million 12.2%
Istanbul 9.16 million 0.9%


Destination cities of tomorrow

Growth in visitors from
2009 to 2016
Osaka 24%
Chengdu 22%
Colombo 20.3%
Abu Dhabi 18.9%
Jakarta 18.2%
Tokyo 17.7%
Hanoi 16.4%
Riyadh 15.9%
Lima 15.2%
Taipei 14.5%

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