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Bangkok still #1, but most-visited list shifts


Bangkok, Thailand, kept its position as the world's most-visited city last year, and the rest of the top 10 stayed in the top 10, but in revised order. But after that, some old favorites have slipped out of the top 20.

Through sixth place, the rest of the top kept their order: London, Paris Dubai, Singapore and New York. But, possibly because of political tensions in the past year, Seoul slipped from from #7 to #10, pushing Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Istanbul up in the list compiled by Mastercard's Global Destination Cities Index.

The overall rankings, below, show interesting changes. Thailand, for instance, has three cities (Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya on the list, which reflects the continuing growth of the country as a vacation destination, but also points out a weakness in the tracking method: It's based on overnight stays, which may boost Thailand's standing as #10 destination country by double-counting visitors who spend time in Bangkok before or after a beach vacation at Phuket. 

And while Dubai has a growing number of visitors for whom it is the destination, the figures also include a large number of visitors who overnight while changing planes that have brought them from one continent and are taking them to another. Mecca is another anomaly: its 9-million-plus visitors are overwhelmingly religious pilgrims rather than leisure or business travelers.


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It’s all in the methodology: these figures are based, as stated, on overnight hotel stays. A quick look tells me that a very different measure is used for the figures that place Orlando at 72 million last year, with 62.8 million in NYC and 42.2 in Las Vegas.

Once again, the question is ‘what’s being measured,’ and I’d love to see an expert explain the choices made in the two calculations!
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