Last updated Thursday, September 29, 2016 8:06 am GMT+8

Friday September 23, 2016
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Chinese tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, September 4, 2014. — Reuters picChinese tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, September 4, 2014. — Reuters picBANGKOK, Sept 23 — Bangkok is projected to be the most visited city in the world for 2016 ahead of London and Paris, according to a new ranking.

In the latest Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index, the Thai capital is projected to receive 21.47 million international overnight visitors in 2016, pulling it ahead of London, which is estimated to receive 19.88 million visitors by the end of the year and Paris, which is predicted to draw 18.03 million visitors.

For the report, analysts used public data and custom-made algorithms. The company says that figures do not represent Mastercard volumes or transactions.

One of the most interesting findings show that while Dubai is the fourth most visited city on the list, it’s expected to rake in the most visitor spending at US$1.3 billion (RM5.3 billion). That compares to US$19.8 billion for London.

Analysts also delved deeper into the figures this year, identifying what motivated travellers and how they spent their money.

With the exception of Shanghai, for instance, analysts found that people traveled to the top 20 cities for leisure.

And while visitors to most of the top 20 cities spent more money shopping, hitting up boutiques and snatching up souvenirs, cities in Europe seem to buck that trend, with tourists spending more on meals in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Istanbul, Milan, Paris, Prague and Vienna.

Meanwhile, a look at the fastest-growing cities in the world reveals that interest is growing most in Asia and the Middle East with Osaka leading the charge and showing a 24 per cent growth in international visitors over the last seven years.

Overall, the Asia Pacific region dominates both the top 10 cities list and the top 10 fastest growing cities index.

In Latin America, Lima was identified as both the top destination and fastest growing city, whereas Punta Cana boasts the most visitor spending.

And New York is the top-ranked city for North America, with 90 per cent of international visitors coming from London, Paris, Sao Paulo, Toronto and Beijing.

Here are the top 10 cities on the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2016:
1. Bangkok, 21.47 million visitors
2. London, 19.88 million visitors
3. Paris, 18.03 million visitors
4. Dubai, 15.27 million visitors
5. New York, 12.75 million visitors
6. Singapore, 12.11 visitors
7. Kuala Lumpur, 12.02 million visitors
8. Istanbul, 11.95 million visitors
9. Tokyo, 11.7 million visitors
10. Seoul, 10.2 million visitors — AFP-Relaxnews

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