The World’s Top 10 Most Visited Cities
1 – Bangkok
The Thai capital became the first Asian city to top the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, edging out London, the previous No. 1, with 15.98 international visitors who generated an estimated US$14.4 billion. International visitor numbers rose a vigorous 9.8 percent in 2012. Bangkok’s top five feeder cities are Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul. Pictured: Royal State Barge cruises past the Grand Palace.
2 – London
London was last year’s No. 1 and still remains the top destination in Europe with 15.96 international visitors. Its revenue from these visitors (US$16.3 billion) was ahead of Bangkok’s by nearly $2 billion. The top five feeder cities to London are Dublin, New York, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Pictured: Houses of Parliament and London Eye.
3 – Paris
Paris was the only city in the top 10 to lose international visitors since the last index was published. Its top five feeder cities are London, New York, Tokyo, Rome and Frankfurt. Pictured: Champs-Elysees at night.
4 – Singapore
The Southeast Asian city-state sits at the crossroads of the Asia-Pacific region and has an active commercial sector, fantastic food scene and a world-leading airline. Pictured: a ‘bumboat’ cruising past the Merlion statue on the harbor.
5 – New York
The only city in the Americas in the top 10 for international travelers, New York also topped the Global Destination Cities Index in terms of revenue generated from them (US$18.6 billion). Top sources of international travelers were London, Toronto, Sao Paolo, Paris and Buenos Aires. Pictured: the Manhattan skyline and Empire State Building.
6 – Istanbul
The Global Destination Cities Index cites the location of Turkey’s largest city, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, as a big reason for its popularity as a destination. If its growth in air travel connectivity continues at current rates, the report predicts it will enter the top five destinations by 2016. Pictured: Aya Sophia Mosque.
7 – Dubai
The only Middle East destination in the top 10, Dubai had 9.89 million international visitors, nearly twice as many as the next most popular destination in the Middle East and Africa, Riyadh, and nearly four times as many as the third, Johannesburg. Along with Bangkok, it had the second largest year-on-year growth in the index, 10.9 percent. Pictured: Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 2,723 feet (829.84 meters).
8 – Kuala Lumpur
The index’s authors say that Malaysian capital is an important link between Asia and the Middle East. Its top five international feeder cities were Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Melbourne and Manila. Pictured: Petronas Towers dominate the skyline.
9 – Hong Kong
The index’s authors cite Hong Kong among China’s important “origin cities” and it continues to be a destination as well. Pictured: Star Ferry crossing Hong Kong Harbour.
10 – Barcelona
Spain may be suffering through economic woes, but Barcelona remains a big draw, especially for travelers from farther north in Europe; top feeder cities were London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Munich. Pictured: Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia.