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London is The Top Tourist Destination Of 2015

Travel data nerds can rejoice, because today they have an economy-sized bucket of stats to pore over regarding the cities getting the most tourists and tourist dollars.


There’s nothing Earth-shattering about the top two most visited cities according to MasterCard’s 2015 Global Destination Cities Index. For the fifth year in a row, it’s London and Bangkok in the top 2, with London projected to receive a world-topping 18.82 million overnight international visitors this year. Bangkok is a close second at 18.24 million.

But MasterCard’s study goes a lot deeper than that, highlighting such facts as which cities are growing most in tourism since 2009, which cities get their visitors to spend the most per city resident, and how overall tourist spending is faring against overall GDP growth. The company says its data is all-inclusive and not limited to MasterCard purchases. You can download the full report here.

New York was the top North American city in projected overnight visitors (meaning they had to stay in the city at least one night), and sixth in the world at 12.27 million. It was No. 2 in the world, however, in projected international visitor spending, with $17.37 billion – a testament to how much more expensive those souvenirs can be in the Big Apple than in Bangkok. London, unsurprisingly, is expected to lead the way in tourist spending this year at $20.23 billion.

Here’s a selection of other noteworthy findings in the report, which gathered information from 132 cities:

–If you break down international visitors vs. the number of residents in those cities, Dubai is the runaway winner, going from 4.9 visitors per resident in 2009 to a projected 5.7 this year. The next-closest city is Amsterdam, with 2.7 visitors per resident in 2015.

Houston is the fastest-rising tourist destination in North America, with 10.5 percent growth in international visitors since 2009 – it still doesn’t crack the continent’s top 10, however.

–Three of the top four fastest-rising destinations in the world since 2009 are in Asia:  Colombo, Sri Lanka (No. 1 at 21.1 percent growth); Chengdu, China; and Osaka, Japan.

–The report includes where cities’ international visitors come from. For instance, New York top international feeder city is London, with a projected 977,000 travelers spending $1.1 billion in 2015. However, the biggest spenders in New York are the Chinese, with just 430,000 visitors but a bar tab of $1.3 billion.

–Of the top 20 world travel destinations, the fastest growing since 2009 is Taipei, with 14.9 percent growth.

–International travelers and international traveler spending is rising faster than the rate of Real World GDP since 2009. Says the report, “This is extraordinary given the generally weak and uneven global economic recovery in the aftermath of the 2008/09 global financial crisis, as well as the fact that world trade grew slower than world GDP since 2009. International air travel is clearly a powerful trend that will persist in the years to come.”

–New York gets far more visitor dollars than any other North American destination: its projected $17.37 billion this year is more than twice as much as the No. 2 city, Los Angeles ($7.4 billion).

–Istanbul is Europe’s fastest-growing tourist destination and has the world’s most diverse base, with 50 percent of its international visitors coming from 33 feeder cities.

–Lima, Peru, dominates Latin America in international guests, with almost 50 percent more of them than the No. 2 city, Mexico City.

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