HOTELS & TOURISM | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore just 100,000 visitors short of being Asia’s most visited city

Guess which Asian city brought in 11.5 million visitors last year?

With an estimated 11.4 million visitor arrivals in 2011, the Index places Singapore second only to Bangkok which has 11.5 million in the Asia-Pacific region. Overall, London topped the world’s cities by visitor numbers with 20.1 million inbound passengers expected in 2011, ahead of Paris in second with 18.1 million. Only one city in North America is in the top twenty, New York, which is ranked twelfth with 7.6 million inbound passengers expected.

A high volume of international visitor arrivals, coupled with significant visitor expenditures has placed Singapore among the world’s top ten destination cities on both counts, according to the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities released today.

The latest Index from MasterCard is a new approach to understanding the global economy and the dynamic flow of commerce across the world. It examines 132 global cities across five continents by visitor arrival and cross border spending in the destination city, and gives growth forecasts for 2011.

While cities in Europe and the US still ranked highly in the MasterCard Index on Global Destination Cities, results point towards many emerging market cities that are showing robust growth with increases in both visitor arrival and cross-border expenditure, and growth rates exceeding 20% in several cities.

Cities in Asia/Pacific led the charge globally having eight of the top twenty cities by international arrivals, with Hong Kong (fifth with 10.9 million visitors) and Seoul (eleventh with 7.9 million visitors) among the other cities performing well. Asia also displayed strong visitor growth for 2011 with Kuala Lumpur ranked second in the world with a 21.8% growth forecast, only behind Barcelona which led with an impressive 24.3%.

Istanbul ranked third with 20.4%, followed by Shanghai (18.6%) and Hong Kong (17.4%). Singapore had a lower growth rate of visitor arrivals over 2010 with an expected increase of 14.5% this year.

London also ranked highest globally on cross-border expenditure, ahead of New York in second place, and Paris in third. Estimated expenditures in these cities for 2011 amounted to US$25.6 billion, US$20.3 billion and US$14.6 billion respectively.

Singapore performs strongly in this category as well, ranking ninth globally and third in AsiaPacific with US$10.8 billion, behind Bangkok (US$ 14.4 million and fourth overall) and Sydney (US$ 13.8 billion and sixth overall). Visitor spending helped Hong Kong to tenth overall with US$10.4 billion and Seoul eleventh with US$10.2 billion.

Overall, Asian cities dominate in terms of expenditure growth with seven of the top twenty high growth cities in the world heralding from the region. Kuala Lumpur tops this list as well, as the Malaysian capital ranked number one in the region with an expected growth rate of 30.1%. Singapore (23.9%), Hong Kong (23.6%), Tokyo (20.8%) and Taipei (20.3%) follow behind.

“Singapore’s status as one of Asia’s premier destinations for travelers from all over the world is confirmed by the findings of the new MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities,” said Ms Julienne Loh, vice president and country manager, Singapore, MasterCard Worldwide.

“With a host of options for dining, entertainment and leisure, the city represents a high-value city destination for all types of travelers. Through this index we can now see that other cities in the region, such as Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, are rising in popularity and Singapore must see this as an opportunity to maintain its attractiveness to travelers.” 

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