Bangkok retains crown as top destination
Fourth year running in Mastercard index
The annual Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index has again named Bangkok the No.1 destination city globally and in Asia-Pacific, with more than 22 million international overnight visitors.
The index contains a region-specific subset for Asia-Pacific.
This is the fourth straight year the capital has grabbed the top spot in the global index, which ranks cities in terms of number of international overnight visitor arrivals, cross-border spending and other factors. It's also the ninth year in a row Bangkok has held the top position in Asia-Pacific.
Bangkok reported 22 million visitors in 2018 who stayed 4.8 days on average and spent an average of US$184 (5,634 baht) a day during their Bangkok trip.
Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul retained the top five spots in Asia-Pacific, fuelled by travellers from mainland China.
In 2018, Asia-Pacific hosted travellers making 342.2 million business and leisure trips, up from 159.1 million in 2009, representing an 8.9% compound annual growth rate over the nine-year period.
Aside from Bangkok, two other Thai destinations -- Phuket and Pattaya -- also made the Asia-Pacific top 10 for overnight international arrivals, coming in at seventh and eighth, with 9.9 million and 9.4 million international overnight visitors, respectively.
Thailand was the only country with three destinations in the Asia-Pacific top 10.
"This year marks 45 years of Mastercard in Thailand," said Aileen Chew, country manager for Thailand and Myanmar.
"Mastercard is proud to be actively supporting the ongoing growth of the tourism industry in the country."
Mastercard launched two new programmes this year to promote tourism: Destination Thailand and Priceless Bangkok.
The campaigns seek to introduce the world to the beauty and warmth that Thailand has to offer.
"While the world's economic, geopolitical, technological and societal landscapes have all changed dramatically since Mastercard launched this research 10 years ago, one thing has remained constant: the desire of ever-growing numbers of people to explore the world beyond their own borders," said Rupert Naylor, senior vice-president for data and services and Asia-Pacific.
With the top 20 cities attracting nearly half (49.8%) of all international overnight arrivals to the 161 destinations ranked in Asia-Pacific, it's important to understand not only how such continuously rising travel numbers impact cities and destinations for the better, but also the challenges they pose, Mr Naylor said.