Amsterdam among top 20 tourist destinations worldwide

25 June 2012, by

Amsterdam ranks among the top 20 most popular tourist destinations worldwide, according to the latest MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. This report considers the impact of international travel on the global economy by analysing visitor traffic and cross-border travel expenditures in a network of 132 destination cities around the world.

Despite sluggish economic growth worldwide, the number of people traveling abroad and the money they spend while doing so continue to increase. The number of visitors to the world’s top 20 destination cities rose by 5,7 percent from 2011 to 2012, while the total cross-border spending rose by 10,6 percent over the same period.

When it comes to attracting visitors, European cities lead the ranking, with 10 European cities making the top 20 destination cities. London comes in first place with 16,9 million projected visitors in 2012, while Amsterdam comes in 17th place for the second year in a row with 6,9 million visitors. Cities in Asia / Pacific also rank high, accounting for 8 of the top 20. At the 13th position, New York City is the only city in North America to make the top 20.

Rio de Janeiro showed the fastest growth in the number of visitors from 2011 to 2012 at 28,6 percent. Istanbul is the only European city to rank in the top 20 in terms of growth in its number of visitors at 14,7 percent. Rather this ranking is dominated by destination cities in emerging markets, with 6 of the top 20 in the Middle East and Africa, another 6 in Asia / Pacific, and 5 in Latin America.

Top 20 destination cities by international visitors (2012)
London (16,9 million)
Paris (16 million)
Bangkok (12,2 million)
Singapore (11,8 million)
Istanbul (11,6 million)
Hong Kong (11,1 million)
Madrid (9,7 million)
Dubai (8,8 million)
Frankfurt (8,1 million)
Kuala Lumpur (8,1 million)
Seoul (8 million)
Rome (7,8 million)
New York (7,6 million)
Shanghai (7,5 million)
Barcelona (7,3 million)
Milan (7,1 million)
Amsterdam (6,9 million)
Vienna (6,7 million)
Beijing (6,2 million)
Taipei (5,4 million)

amsterdam dam
Photo by Flickr user keriluamox 

When it comes to visitor expenditures, European cities again lead the ranking, with 8 European cities making the top 20 (but Amsterdam isn’t one of them). London also tops this list, with visitors projected to spend 21,1 billion dollars there in 2012. Cities in Asia / Pacific also rank high, accounting for 7 of the top 20.

Quito (Ecuador) showed the fastest growth in visitor cross-border spending from 2011 to 2012 at 26,3 percent. Istanbul ranks 4th with a growth in visitor expenditures of 20,7 percent. Just two other European cities, Vienna and Zurich, made the top 20 in terms of visitor expenditures. Rather this ranking is dominated by non-Western cities, with 17 cities in Asia / Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America making the top 20.

Of the top 20 cities in terms of number of visitors, 15 of them are also in the top 20 in terms of visitor expenditures, although the two rankings are quite different. They indicate that some cities are much better at attracting high-spending visitors from abroad than others. For example, while NYC ranks just 13th in terms of the number of visitors, it ranks 2nd in terms of visitor expenditures.

In general, the report predicts a sunny enough forecast for international travel to and visitor expenditures in Europe for 2012. The top 10 European cities show a projected combined overall increase in visitor numbers of 2,8 percent and a rise of 8,1 percent in terms of projected total cross-border expenditures. The average expenditure per visit is expected to increase for these European cities to 1.172 dollars, up 5,1 percent since last year.

Source: MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities (pdf)

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