Increased economic activity in Asia and the Middle East looks to bring a windfall in visitation and spending to the two regions.

Bangkok has overtaken London as the most visited destination for international travelers, according to the latest Global Destination Cities Index produced by MastercardLondon had edged out Bangkok for the top spot in 2015.

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Asia Pacific is the most dynamic region for international travel growth, followed by the Middle East and South America. Osaka, Japan, and Chengdu, China, posted the highest compound annual growth rates among global destinations from 2009 to 2016, followed by Abu Dhabi and Colombo, Sri Lanka.

In fact, the first destination on the growth list not from Asia or the Middle East is Lima, Peru, which saw the 15th highest growth rate among destinations.

“The growth trajectories of many of the destination cities are becoming increasingly diverse as they tap into new sources of growth (feeder cities) within as well as outside their own region,” states the report. “Look at the juxtaposition of the current top ranked destination cities with the fastest growing ones at both the global and regional levels and see a dynamic picture of changing pace and patterns of growth.”

Here are four takeaways from the report.

Asia and Europe Are Dominating

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A look at the top twenty destination cities by international overnight visitors underlines the trend of an increase in travel in Asia. European stalwarts like London, Paris, and Barcelona are still performing well.

Growth in Asia Pacific Remains Strong

Rank in Growth Rate Destination CAGR
1 Osaka 24.15
2 Chengdu 20.14
3 Abu Dhabi 19.81
4 Colombo 19.57
5 Tokyo 18.48
6 Riyadh 16.45
7 Taipei 14.53
8 Xi’an 14.2
9 Tehran 12.98
10 Xiamen 12.93
11 Jakarta 12.89
12 Bangkok 12.57
13 Hanoi 11.64
14 Mumbai 10.42
15 Lima 9.86
16 Bogota 9.61
17 Seoul 9.49
18 Ho Chi Minh City 9.22
19 Chenai 9.15
20 Dubai 9.07

Looking at annual growth in visitors since 2009, no North American or European destinations make the top 20 list.

“At the global level, Asia/Pacific dominates overwhelmingly with 14 cities in the top 20 fastest growing destination cities, followed by Middle East & Africa which has four cities in the global top 20,” reads the report. “Interestingly, more than half of these 20 cities are currently not among the global top 20. The fact that so many of the fastest growing destination cities are not among the top ranked today indicates strong and increasingly differentiated momentum of growth propelling many of these cities forward.”

Leisure Travel Is the Main Driver

2016 Rank City Leisure % Business %
1 Bangkok 85.6 14.4
2 London 79.1 20.9
3 Paris 70.3 29.7
4 Dubai 80 20
5 New York 86.4 13.6
6 Singapore 77.3 22.7
7 Kuala Lumpur 73.2 26.8
8 Istanbul 90.8 9.2
9 Tokyo 72.5 27.5
10 Seoul 83.7 16.3
11 Hong Kong 76.6 23.4
12 Barcelona 90.3 9.7
13 Amsterdam 73 27
14 Milan 72.8 27.2
15 Taipei 86.6 13.4
16 Rome 86.4 12.6
17 Osaka 88 12
18 Vienna 82.1 17.9
19 Shanghai 45.4 54.6
20 Prague 87.2 12.8

Breaking down the top destination cities by leisure and business split, leisure travel still dominates despite increase in business travel in Asia. It also reflects the seasonality of leisure travel.

“The peak seasons of the destination cities clearly reflect their climate,” asserts the report. “The warmer the climate, the more popular are the winter months in Dubai and Hong Kong, for example. Spring, Summer and Fall are more popular in destination cities with colder climate such as London and New York.”

There Are Expensive Destinations Everywhere

2016 Rank City 2016 Visitor Spend (U.S.$ B) 2016 Visitors (M)
1 Dubai $31.30 15.3
2 London $19.76 19.9
3 New York $18.52 12.7
4 Bangkok $14.84 21.5
5 Tokyo $13.48 11.7
6 Paris $12.88 18
7 Singapore $12.54 12.1
8 Seoul $12.30 10.2
9 Kuala Lumpur $11.34 12
10 Taipei $9.60 7.3
11 Barcelona $9.28 8.2
12 Miami $8.15 5.2
13 Los Angeles $8.10 5.6
14 Madrid $8.02 5.3
15 Istanbul $7.54 12
16 Hong Kong $6.84 8.4
17 Sydney $6.40 3.7
18 San Francisco $5.93 3.9
19 Munich $5.32 5.3
20 Berlin $5 4.9

While emerging destinations are seeing the strongest increase in international visitors, the overnight spending hewed to the established pecking order. The relatively affordability of many Asian destination likely contributes to this continued trend.

Dubai, London, and New York top the list, while destinations like San Francisco and Berlin receive far less spending from international visitors.

Check out the report featuring oodles of data on destination visitation and spending below.

Download (PDF, 21.85MB)

Photo Credit: Asia is experiencing extreme growth in international visitation. Osaka, Japan, pictured here, was ranked the fasted growing city by international visitation in 2016, due to increased visitation from Chinese vacationers. liu yu cheng / Flickr