Euromonitor International is pleased to release the Top City Destinations Ranking, covering 100 of the world’s leading cities in terms of international tourist arrivals. Continued economic growth helped these cities collectively experience a gain of 6.6% in 2012, outpacing the 4.2% growth of overall international arrivals.
Within the top 10, six cities are located in Asia, demonstrating the importance of the region to international travel. Overall, 32 of the top 100 city destinations are in Asia Pacific, 12 more than in second-placed Western Europe.
The Rise of Chinese Tourists Impacts Top Cities
Hong Kong and Singapore maintained their first and second place spots in 2012. China was the fastest growing source market and helped them to retain their leading positions. Arrivals from China to Hong Kong grew by 11.1% in 2012 and accounted for a 63.5% share of all inbound visitors.
Without taking Chinese arrivals into account, however, international arrivals to Hong Kong were flat. China is the third largest source market for Singapore although it accounts for only 9.6% of international arrivals. Instead, Singapore relies heavily on arrivals from Malaysia and Indonesia, which together account for slightly more than half of all arrivals.
Chinese tourists were also a boon to Thailand’s tourism industry, increasing by 62% in 2012 to become the largest source market for tourists. Chinese tourists visit Thailand for its temples, beaches and shopping.
Additionally, the 2012 Chinese film “Lost in Thailand” inspired more tourists to flock to the country. As a result, Bangkok edged out London for third place in the rankings.
As a mature destination heavily dependent on mature source markets, such as the US and Europe, London’s 2.3% increase was a reasonable performance. Instead of being a boon for international tourism, the summer Olympics had a displacement effect, with 5% fewer international arrivals to the city in July 2012 compared to July 2011, according to the UK’s Office for National Statistics.
While the Chinese Venture Abroad, Fewer Travellers Visit China
In absolute terms, Shanghai, Beijing and Zhuhai were among the worst performing cities in 2012. . A slowing economy, a stronger yuan and pollution fears all dissuaded travellers from visiting Asian countries, as well as Canadians and Russians from visiting China.
In particular, tourists from Japan, the fifth largest source market, experienced a decline due to the weak yen and the ongoing dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
However, Guilin registered strong growth thanks to the efforts of its government to promote the city as an international destination at travel trade fairs held in Thailand, Russia and Malaysia, as well as the city’s burgeoning reputation for sightseeing.
Euromonitor International’s Top City Destinations Ranking
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