Hong Kong king for arrivals among global cities

Euromonitor International's latest Top 100 City Destinations Ranking puts Hong Kong as the most visited city in the world, followed by Bangkok and London.

London is in the top 3 of most visited locations, behind Hong Kong and Bangkok. Photo of a plane at Heathrow Airport
Hong Kong has remained the most visited city in the world for the seventh year running despite a fall in the number of arrivals, according to Euromonitor International's latest Top 100 City Destinations Ranking.Based on 2015 international arrivals and excluding those in transit, the market research company reported on Thursday that Bangkok had overtaken London to claim second place in the rankings, despite an increase in arrivals in the UK capital, which remained the highest placed European city.

Reasons for Hong Kong's continued success

Despite a six per cent fall overall in the number of visitors to China and a 3.9 per cent decline in arrivals at Hong Kong itself, it still attracted 26.7 million visitors, well ahead of the 18.7 million recorded in Bangkok (a rise of 10 per cent) and the 18.58 million in London, an annual increase of 6.8 per cent.“The close proximity to and rapidly rising disposable incomes in China mean that Hong Kong remains a key destination for Chinese travellers. However, Hong Kong faces increasing difficulties in maintaining its attractiveness, especially amongst younger Chinese travellers, amid rising tensions between Hong Kong residents and the Chinese ruling party,” Euromonitor said.
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The report said that London arrivals were boosted by England’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2015 but said the referendum decision to leave the European Union last year had cast a shadow over the city's future prospects, even though 2016 was likely to prove a bumper year because of the devaluation of sterling.Euromonitor added that the long-awaited decision by the UK government to back the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport would provide much-needed additional airport capacity, but said this would come too late to compensate for the potential Brexit fallout.Other points from the report included:
  • Japanese cities saw impressive growth, with Tokyo rising eight places to rank 17th, and Osaka and Kyoto entering the top 100, ranking 55 and 89 respectively. 
  • Tunisia fell on hard times due to multiple terrorist attacks, with Jerba being the only Tunisian city in the ranking, while Mecca in Saudi Arabia was the best performer in the region, seeing strong growth in the number of religious tourists. 
  • Countries with a comparable offerings to Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy, saw booming international arrivals. Athens especially had another record year with arrivals growing by 22.6 percent in 2015, despite political and economic turmoil. 
  • Mexican tourism overall is booming with Cancun remaining immensely popular, despite a decline in visitors due to the Mexican government promoting other destinations within the country. 
  • Lima had a strong performance, with growth of 9 percent in 2015. The city benefited from the improvement of the Peruvian economy and international recognition of Peru as a travel destination.
Wouter Geerts, Euromonitor International’s travel analyst, commented: “2015 was another turbulent year. Terrorist attacks, geopolitical conflicts, economic uncertainty and health scares like MERS and zika were just some of the factors impacting city arrivals."Nevertheless, top cities outperformed global travel flows, registering growth of 5.5 per cent in international arrivals compared to 2014, showing the resilience of global cities as travel destinations.”

Euromonitor International’s Top 10 global cities

Top 10 global cities for travellers (arrivals in millions; annual percentage increase/decrease):
  1. Hong Kong (26.7m; -3.9%)
  2. Bangkok (18.7m; +10%)
  3. London (18.58m; +6.8%)
  4. Singapore (16.86m; +0.4%)
  5. Paris (15m; -0.2%)
  6. Macau (14.3m; -1.8%)
  7. Dubai (14.26m; +8.0%)
  8. Istanbul (12.4m; +4.8%)
  9. New York (12.3m; +0.6%)
  10. Kuala Lampur (12.15m; +4.5%)
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