Dubai has retained its position as the fourth most popular travel destination in the world – and the top-ranked destination in the Middle East – according to the eighth annual Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index released recently.
Moreover, Abu Dhabi with a growth rate of 19.81 percent has emerged as the fastest growing city in the Middle East and Africa and the third fastest growing city worldwide. This marks the United Arab Emirates as both the most visited and fastest growing country in the region for the second year in a row.
Bangkok topped this year’s list of the world’s most popular travel destinations, pushing London to second spot, with Paris and New York rounding off the top five. Singapore has been sixth in the world based on international visitor numbers.
Forecasted overnight visitors to the Top 10 cities include:
Bangkok – 21.47 million
London – 19.88 million
Paris – 18.03 million visitors
Dubai – 15.27 million visitors
New York – 12.75 million visitors
Singapore – 12.11 million visitors
Kuala Lumpur – 12.02 million visitors
Istanbul – 11.95 million visitors
Tokyo – 11.70 million visitors
Seoul – 10.20 million visitors
The Index provides more than a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world. It projects visitor volume and spend estimates for the 2016 calendar year, while delivering a deeper understanding of how people travel and spend around the world. As cross-border travel and spending continue to grow at a faster pace than the world GDP, the world’s cities continue to be engines of broader economic growth.
The biggest surprise in this year’s Index is Dubai’s jump to the top rank based on international visitor spending of US$31.3 billion, far exceeding the second-ranked London estimated at US$19.8 billion.
“The findings of the Index show that Dubai is firmly entrenched at the high table of global tourism and travel,” said Eyad Al Kourdi, Senior Vice President and General Manager, UAE, Mastercard. “Tourism remains the heartbeat of Dubai’s economy, and the steady rise in visitor numbers indicates how the emirate’s fascinating mix of iconic attractions is proving ever more compelling to today’s international traveler. With marquee events such as the Expo 2020 looming on the near horizon, one can expect the accolades to keep coming as Dubai looks to make further progress towards its goal of becoming the world’s most visited city within the next five years.”
Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai’s Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM) said: “Maintaining our position in the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index as fourth most popular travel destination in the world demonstrates Dubai’s ongoing commitment to the continued development of our tourism proposition and our efforts to maintain growth in visitor numbers to the emirate.”
He further added “The emirate’s top rank based on international visitor spending highlights the city’s vast offering as a family destination. In addition it confirms Dubai’s status as a destination that attracts repeat visits due to its continually evolving tourism offering, from popular shopping options such as our incredible malls to traditional gold and textiles souqs plus new and upcoming entertainment venues like IMG Worlds of Adventure and The Dubai Opera as well as Dubai Parks and Resorts. Dubai caters to all budgets and visitors can still take a traditional abra across the creek for just AED1 as well as enjoying a wide range of open parks and beaches,” he added.
According to the study, Dubai is expected to receive 15.27 million international visitors in 2016, an increase of 7.5 percent over 2015.
Meanwhile, Singapore has come on the sixth place in the global ranking. For 2016, the index predicted that 12.11 million people will visit Singapore with more than 77% coming to the country for recreational purposes. Singapore is a popular choice among foreign visitors due to its ability to tap into so-called feeder cities.
These feeder cities are from countries in the Asia-Pacific region that are having a lot of outbound tourism activity. A majority of international visitors flocking to Singapore originate from Jakarta, Hong Kong, Manila, Tokyo and Shanghai.
Visitors from Jakarta make up the most number of foreign visitors to Singapore because of Indonesia’s distance, which is the shortest among other feeder cities, from the city-state.
Despite its relatively small size, Singapore managed to offer several attractions that have continually lured tourists. The pristine Sentosa beaches, Universal Studios and numerous parks such as the Gardens by the Bay are just some of the places to see in Singapore.