The much talked-about Asian Century is expanding its influence into the travel sphere, with Asian destinations clinching five out of top 10 positions in the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities 2014.
Released yesterday, the list ranks global cities according to the number of international overnight visitors the cities are expected to receive for the year. Asia-Pacific bested last year’s efforts, when the region took four places.
While Bangkok relinquished its top spot from last year to London, it still came in strong at second place to lead the other Asia-Pacific cities in the top 10, which are Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Seoul respectively.
Accounting for the drop in Bangkok’s ranking, Matthew Driver, president, South-east Asia, MasterCard, said: “It is unsurprising due to the political unrest and uncertainty that has plagued Thailand since the latter part of 2013.
“However we are optimistic that Bangkok will come back in the foreseeable future as number one,” he added. The Thai capital is predicted to see an 11 per cent decline in visitors from last year.
According to the Index, Bangkok is projected to receive 16.4 million visitors this year, followed by Singapore in fourth place with 12.5 million (3.1 per cent growth) visitors, Kuala Lumpur in eighth with 10.8 million (+13.1 per cent) visitors, Hong Kong at ninth with 8.8 million (+seven per cent) and Seoul at 10th with 8.6 million (+4.7 per cent) visitors.
Highlighting the prevalence of South-east Asian markets in the top 10, Driver said: “(The South-east Asian) market is clearly supporting the growth of global tourism as we can see the increasing development of tourism infrastructure there and the broad appeal that they are putting up to the world.
“We have to attribute this growth in the (South-east Asian) market also to the LCCs because they have helped make a prominent presence in air travel today which makes it easier to go to some of these destinations,” Driver added.
Meanwhile, Singapore topped the region with highest international visitor spend of US$14.3 billion expected this year, up from US$13.2 billion last year.
Driver said: “We can see how Singapore has a very deliberate strategy to develop its tourism assets, and in Singapore’s push for quality tourism by driving spending up instead of solely focusing on numbers, it is undoubtedly clear that Singapore is doing a good job.”
The top 10 cities in the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities are:
6. New York
8. Kuala Lumpur
9. Hong Kong