Bangkok is Again the World’s Most Visited City

Every year, MasterCard unveils its report of the top most visited cities in the world. And vintage 2016 brought some good news to Thailand with Bangkok being crowned the world’s most visited city. The recently published report by MasterCard shows that the Thai capital attracted this year 21.47 million international overnights travellers whoinjected 14.84 billion US dollars in the economy. International arrivals progressed by 9.6% between 2015 and 2016 while spending were up by 9.9%. Between 2009 and 2016, Bangkok number of overseas tourists has grown on average by 12.6%.

Only Jakarta performed better in ASEAN related to average growth of travellers in percentage. Indonesia capital city has seen an average growth of international tourists of 12.9%, albeit from a far lower level. Total international tourists in 2016 in Jakarta totalled only 1.55 million…. Numebr three in terms of average growth is Ho Ci Minh City, up by 9.22% on an annual average between 2009 and 2016. The three ASEAN metropolises area among the top 20 fastest growing destinations in MasterCard Index.

The result confirms Thailand’s tourism dynamics. On December 27, the country welcomed at Suvarnabhumi Airport its 32th million international traveller for the year. Until December 31, Thailand should then have welcomed 32.4 to 32.6 million overseas visitors according to estimations from Thailand Ministry of Sports and Tourism. Tourism remains the bright spot of Thailand’s economy as tourists seem unfazed by the Kingdom’s being now in the hands of the military. In fact, tourism is now enjoying stability and the end of political troubles which shook the Kingdom for a decade until 2014.

About 32% of international visitors in Bangkok originate from outside of Asia-Pacific. In terms of visitors’ countries of origin, China is the biggest, accounting for 37% of Bangkok’s international visitors, followed by Japan at 8%, U.S. at 4%, and India and Germany at 3%.

Bangkok’s number one ranking is no surprise, as the city continues to enjoy the reputation of being a good value for money. Looking at the breakdown for spending, accommodation represented only 26% of all expenses, the lowest of any city in Southeast Asia while food spending was just in the average with an average share of 19.4%.

In 2017, Bangkok could again be the most visited city in the world, especially as the Government is taking various measures to facilitate tourists’ arrivals in the Kingdom. It includes especially simplified tourist visa formalities with free or reduced visa fees, along with the extension of long stay visa from one year to ten years.

Among the top 100 most popular cities listed by MasterCard Index, seven are ASEAN metropolises. Following Bangkok, Singapore was the sixth most visited city with 12.11 million international overnights travellers and spending of US$12.54 billion, followed by Kuala Lumpur in seven position with 12.02 million travellers and spending reaching US$11.34 billion. Far behind, Ho Chi Minh City is the Greater Mekong most popular destination with 3.95 million travellers, ranking 42 among the world’s most visited cities. The former South Vietnam capital is ahead of Hanoi, Jakarta and Manila.

Looking at the type of travellers coming to ASEAN cities, Jakarta has the most business travellers with a share of 59.1% followed by Hanoi with 29.7% of business visitors and Kuala Lumpur with 26.8%. Bangkok has indeed the lowest share of pure business travellers with a share of 14.4%.