Bangkok Tops Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index for the Fourth Consecutive Year

Over the past ten years the world has seen economic ebbs and flows, evolving global competition and partnership, and boundless technological innovation. But, one thing has remained constant: peoples growing desire to travel the world, visit new landscapes and immerse themselves in other cultures. Mastercards Global Destination Cities Index, released today, quantifies this desire: since 2009, the number of international overnight visitors grew an astounding 76 percent.

This year, the Global Destination Cities Indexwhich ranks 200 cities based on proprietary analysis of publicly available visitor volume and spend datareveals that Bangkok remains the No. 1 destination, with more than 22 million international overnight visitors. Paris and London, in flipped positions this year, hold the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively both hovering over 19 million. All top ten cities saw more international overnight visitors in 2018 than the prior year, with the exception of London, which decreased nearly 4 percent. The forecast for 2019 indicates across-the-board growth, with Tokyo expecting the largest uptick in visitors.

When looking at the cities by dollar spent, Dubai tops the list with travelers spending USD $553 on average a day. Makkah, new to the top 10 last year, remains at No. 2 for the second consecutive year, with Bangkok rounding out the top three.

Notably this year, the Global Destination Cities Index offers a decade of insights to consider, with three key trends standing out.

  1. Consistent & Steady Growth: Over the past decade, the one constant has been continual change. Each year, more people are traveling internationally and spending more in the cities. Between all of the destinations within the Index, arrivals have grown on average 6.5 percent year-over-year since 2009, with expenditure growing on average 7.4 percent.
  2. The Sustained Dominance of Major Cities: While there has been significant movement in visitors to smaller cities, the top 10 has remained largely consistent. London, Paris and Bangkok have been the top 3 since 2010, with Bangkok as No. 1 six of the past seven years. New York is another top 10 stalwart, with 13.6 million overnight visitors this year.
  3. The Rise of Asia-Pacific International Travelers: Cities in the Asia-Pacific region have seen the largest increase in international travelers since 2009, growing 9.4 percent. In comparison, Europe, which saw the second highest growth, was up 5.5 percent. This is spurred on by the growth in mainland Chinese travelers. Since 2009, mainland China has jumped up six places to be the No. 2 origin country for travelers to the 200 included destinationsbehind only the U.S.

The Global Top 10 Destination Cities in 2018


2018 International Overnight Visitors

Growth Forecast for 2019

Average Length of Stay

Average Spend Per Day (USD)


22.78 million


4.8 nights



19.10 million


2.5 nights



19.09 million


5.8 nights



15.93 million


3.5 nights



14.67 million


4.2 nights


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

13.79 million


5.7 nights


New York

13.60 million


7.9 nights



13.40 million


5.8 nights



12.93 million


5.4 nights


Antalya, Turkey

12.41 million


14.0 nights


Top Cities by Dollars Spent in 2018


2018 International Overnight Visitor Spend (USD)

Forecast for 2019

Average Spend by Day (USD)


$30.82 billion



Makkah, Saudi Arabia

$20.09 billion




$20.03 billion




$16.56 billion




$16.47 billion



New York

$16.43 billion




$14.06 billion




$13.77 billion



Palma de Mallorca, Spain

$12.69 billion



Phuket, Thailand

$12.01 billion



In todays interconnected world, travel has become an important part of how we work and how we live, said Carlos Menendez, president, Enterprise Partnerships. Its critical for us to understand how travel impacts cities and destinations for the better and the challenges it poses, to ensure local leaders have the information and solutions they need to succeed.

Addressing the challenges and opportunities of global tourism is too big a task for one organization, industry or government alone. Bringing together resources from across disciplines and sectors “ public and private “ helps tourism partners better understand commerce patterns and deliver more connected and inclusive experiences.

As a key technology partner for the global travel and tourism industry, Mastercard provides solutions, insights and consulting services that address destinations unique needs. In addition, Mastercard pioneered City Possible, the global partnerships and co-creation initiative for cities, research institutions and private sector organizations. The initiative identifies and addresses urban challenges through scalable solutions in areas such as digital inclusion and economic development.

Mastercard also works to ensure ease, simplicity and value for consumers who are hitting the road:

  • Mastercard Travel & Lifestyle Services deliver best-in-class travel planning and booking tools for World and World Elite cardholders. With the Lowest Hotel Rate and Hotel Stay Guarantees, cardholders rest assured that they always get the best value and exactly what they paid for.
  • Mastercard Travel Rewards offer select cardholders in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America seamless cash-back rewards when they shop at select merchants in key destinations.
  • Priceless Cities creates unique experiences across food, entertainment and shopping in 42 cities around the globe, including Bangkok, London, Paris and many others included in the Index.

More information and the full reports can be found here.


The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index ranks 200 cities based on third-party research and proprietary analysis 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 2018, and gives visitor and expenditure growth forecasts.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 200 destination cities. Forecasts are based upon the weighted average of the national level tourism forecasts and the actual 2019 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.

The Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI) is a regional subset of Mastercards Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI). More information and the full APDI report can be found here.

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry. Our global payments processing network connects 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

Sean Hamel +1 914 249 1880