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Cities remain the world’s economic and population anchors and will play an even larger role in travel by 2030 when more than 60% of the global population lives in urban areas.
That percentage isn’t much more than the current ratio since about 56% of the global population lives in a city. Though with an additional 1.5 billion people by 2030, more than the current population of India, urban areas will certainly feel more crowded with locals and travelers. International travel growth is closely aligned with the cities seeing some of the most rapidly expanding populations. Some 15 of the top 20 most-visited cities by international travelers are in Asia, which also has many of the world’s most populous metro areas.
Euromonitor compiled a list of the top 100 most-visited cities by international travelers as of 2014 and found that several cities in China and India had the most year-over-year growth and some of the largest international visitor totals. The cities in this list aren’t necessarily the most-visited overall as domestic travelers aren’t included in the arrivals. The list provides a frame of reference for how important cities are to travelers and how the desire to visit urban areas gets stronger as travelers become more digitally connected.
Chart 1: Some 15 of the world’s top 20 most-visited cities by international travelers are in Asia. Cities like Istanbul, Turkey, and Taipai, Taiwan saw the largest increases in international arrivals from 2013 to 2014. Hong Kong has the most international visitors of any city with more than 27 million in 2014. About 67% of Hong Kong’s visitors are from Mainland China. Euromonitor’s data also suggest a 20% decrease in Hong Kong’s hotel stays in 2015 while neighboring Japan and South Korea saw increases in hotel stays from Chinese tourists. This could be due to more Mainland Chinese tourists visiting for day trips to shop and then return home.
Chart 2: The world’s urban population is growing much faster than its population that resides in rural areas. By 2021 the global rural population will peak and begin to decline while the urban population continues climbing. By 2030 an additional 1.2 billion will live in cities.
Chart 3: By 2030 some 15 of the world’s top 30 economies will be cities, with half of these in Asia. New York City will be the leading city in terms of GDP and its economy will be bigger than that of Spain.