Asia Pacific’s five most popular cities revealed in Mastercard report

Five destinations attract 22 per cent of all international traveller arrivals in Asia Pacific and a quarter of travel spend in the region, according to a new Mastercard report.

Asia Pacific’s five most popular destinations for international travellers – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul – welcomed over one-fifth of all overnight visitors to the region’s top 161 cities and regional centres last year. Hong Kong is notably absent from the list.

The data has been revealed in Mastercard’s Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI), a regional subset of the Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI) which is now in its tenth year. 

Primarily driven by explosive growth in outbound travel from Mainland China, these five cities are also capturing more than 25.2 per cent of total international travel spending in the region.

Last year, Asia Pacific hosted travellers making 342.2 million business and leisure trips, up from 159.1 million in 2009, representing an 8.9-per-cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the nine-year period. During the same period, travel spending in Asia Pacific more than doubled, rising from US$117.6 billion to $281.1 billion, equating to a compound annual growth rate of 10.2 per cent.

“While the world’s economic, geopolitical, technological and societal landscapes have all changed dramatically since Mastercard launched this research 10 years ago, one thing has remained constant: the desire of ever-growing numbers of people to explore the world beyond their own borders,” said Mastercard’s senior VP data & services Asia Pacific Rupert Naylor. “With the top 20 cities attracting nearly half (49.8 per cent) of all international overnight arrivals to the 161 destinations ranked in the APDI, it is important to understand not only how continuously rising travel numbers impact cities and destinations for the better, but also the challenges they pose. This equips governments, merchants and the global travel industry with the information and insights they need to better serve their residents and visitors.”

The research shows that Mainland China continues to exert the greatest influence over travel patterns and expenditure flows. Since 2009, overnight arrivals by Mainland Chinese travellers in markets across Asia Pacific surged from 10.5 million to 62.4 million last year, representing a 21.9 per cent compound annual growth rate over the period.

“While Mainland China serves as a focal point for Asia Pacific’s top destinations, there are also bright spots in South Korea, Japan and India,” said Naylor. “As travellers from these markets continue to increase by remarkable percentages year over year, it is imperative that we bring together resources from both the public and private sectors to help tourism partners better understand commerce patterns and deliver attractive experiences for eager travellers from across the region.”


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