East Asian cities dominate the world’s most visited destinations

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Bangkok was the world’s most visited city last year, according to travel and tourism analyst GlobalData.

The list of most visited cities was dominated by east-Asian countries, with Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Shenzhen in China all placing inside the top 10.

But Bangkok topped the list, luring in 22.43 million tourists last year.

“Visitors from China and European countries are driving the growth of international arrivals to Asian cities,” said GlobalData economic research analyst Aditi Dutta Chowdhury.

“Tourism friendly visa policies of Thailand, strong promotional efforts and low-cost connectivity have made Bangkok the top international destination. In addition, weak Asian currencies along with diversity of visitor interests in Asian cities played a vital role in attracting international visitors.” 

bangkok busy city skyline

Other countries in the top 10 were Greater London (2nd), Dubai (4th), New York City (7th) and Greater Paris (8th).

Greater London benefited from depreciation of the Brexit-affected British pound. While London attracted many business travellers, due to it being a key global financial hub, almost 50 per cent of international visits were for leisure purposes.

Tokyo was the fastest growing destination, recording 60.5 per cent tourism growth between 2014 and 2018.

Chinese travellers are flooding the global market, and tourists from countries such as South Korea and Japan are tipped to follow suit.

China outbound tourism has grown along with its citizens’ personal disposable income. According to China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), outbound travel has grown by 262 per cent since 2008 and is expected to reach 166 million departures by 2019.

India could be next, with outbound tourism growing at an average annual rate of 9.2 per cent since 2008. According to the estimates by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), 50 million Indian tourists will visit global destinations by 2020.

The top 10 most visited countries in order are:

  • Bangkok
  • Greater London
  • Singapore
  • Dubai
  • Tokyo
  • Hong Kong
  • New York City
  • Greater Paris
  • Seoul
  • Shenzhen

Are you surprised by this list? Have you visited any of these countries? Did you find them ‘busy’? Would you revisit, or avoid them in future?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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