Asian Cities Dominate Top 10 International Tourist Arrivals in 2017

Bangkok, Thailand skyline at night
Photo by thitivong/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Asian cities outnumbered their counterparts in Europe and America in terms of international tourist arrivals in 2017, according to data and analytics company GlobalData. Asia was represented by seven cities—Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen—while Europe, Middle East and America were limited to one city each—with London, Dubai and New York City each making the list, respectively.

Depreciation of most of the Asian currencies (except Chinese Yuan) played a vital role in attracting international visitors to Asian cities, GlobalData says. The “unstoppable rise of the Chinese traveler,” as reported by The Telegraph, could also be behind the numbers. It notes: “In the first year of the new millennium, a modest 10.5 million overseas trips were made by Chinese residents. Fast forward to 2017 and the figure was 145 million—an astounding increase of 1,380 percent.” GlobalData says that tourists from both Europe and China were behind the growth of international arrivals to Asia.

Bangkok remains the top international tourist destination globally for the third consecutive year, with 20.8 million international visitors in 2017. Tourism-friendly visa policies of Thailand, strong promotional efforts and low-cost connectivity drove Bangkok to the top spot.

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London was the second-most preferred destination with 20.4 million international visitors riding on the back of deprecation in the value of British Pound since Brexit referendum, followed by Singapore, Tokyo and Dubai with 17.42 million, 16.40 million and 15.80 million, respectively. In sixth through 10th place was Hong Kong (14.03 million), New York City (13.10), Seoul (13.07), Kuala Lumpur (12.10) and Shenzhen (12.07)

Konstantina Boutsioukou, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, says: “Huge expanding middle class, the growth of low cost carriers and geographical proximity makes traveling within Asia easy and convenient, particularly for the first time travelers.”

GlobalData's report Tapping Into the Luxury Travel Market reveals that emerging affluent citizens of Indonesia, Turkey, Singapore, Mexico and India are the ones saving the most for vacations.

(Note: The report reaffirms that “whereas luxury travel was once associated with first-class transportation, five-star accommodation and Michelin-starred restaurants, upscale tourism is gradually changing, with travelers shifting from opulence to exclusive experiences. Changing consumer perceptions and priorities are redefining the concept of luxury in travel; high appreciation of different cultures and a prioritization of experiences over ownership of goods has resulted in travelers seeking deeper travel experiences.”

The Tapping Into the Luxury Travel Market survey also found that upper middle class, high-net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals were the main consumers of luxury travel; however, as the concept of luxury tourism is changing, so does the target audience. It adds, while Millennials are not among the wealthiest generations and may not be willing to spend much on upscale accommodations, they may be willing to trade up on exclusive activities.)

Looking back at GlobalData’s statistics on 2017’s international arrivals, it founds that despite lower hotel cost, the occupancy rate in most of the Asian cities was around 70 percent, which was lower than cities in Europe and America in 2017. This, GlobalData says, is because the growth in hotel development in recent years is higher than the growth in the number of travelers. Hong Kong, however, led the way in occupancy rate at 89 percent. New York, Tokyo, Singapore and London followed, all totaling over 80 percent.

In terms of average daily rate (ADR), New York City ($255.50) leads the pack followed by London ($190.90). Kuala Lumpur was the only city of the 10 to fall below $100 for its ADR ($83.70).

GlobalData expects Asian cities to continue to dominate the top 10 ranking list in terms of international destinations, primarily due to various initiatives, such as implementation of the single visa by the respective governments of Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-states, the abundance of low cost carriers and enhancement of transportation by developing highways and railways.

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