26 April 2017

Bangkok is the most-visited destination in Asia Pacific

Source: Mastercard. Cover of the Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index 2017 report.
Source: Mastercard. Report cover.
While Bangkok, Thailand remains the most-visited destination in the Asia Pacific region, Singapore continues to lead the Thai capital in total visitor expenditure, according to the latest findings from the Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index 2017*.

Singapore has tracked a 18% leap in visitor spend over 2015 and 2016. One of only five destinations of the top 20 by total expenditure to reach a minimum spend of US$200 per day, Singapore attracted the highest spending visitors at US$254 per day, followed by Beijing, mainland China (US$242), Shanghai, China (US$234), Hong Kong (US$211) and Taipei, Taiwan (US$208).

Half of the top 20 most-visited destinations in Asia Pacific saw more than 10% growth in international overnight arrivals from 2015 to 2016. Destinations that benefitted most from this growth include Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian markets – Seoul, Korea (32.7%), Osaka, Japan (23.8%), Bali, Indonesia (22.5%), Tokyo, Japan (22.2%), Hokkaido, Japan (21.9%), Chiba, Japan (21.5%) and Pattaya, Thailand (20.6%).

This growth provides significant opportunities which governments, tourism bodies, and merchants can benefit from, including greater economic, cultural and infrastructural development.

Overall, overnight arrivals** to the 171 Asia Pacific destinations in 2016 stood at 339.2 million (9.8% CAGR from 2009 to 2016), led by Bangkok which tracked 19.3 million visitors. Singapore (13.1 million) came in second place, followed by Tokyo (12.6 million), Seoul (12.4 million) and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (11.3 million). China stands as Asia Pacific’s most avid outbound travel market, having contributed 55 million international overnight visitors to the region last year or 16.2% of the total.

The top ten Asia Pacific destinations ranked by international overnight arrivals:

1. Bangkok – 19.3 million

2. Singapore – 13.1 million

3. Tokyo – 12.6 million

4. Seoul – 12.4 million

5. Kuala Lumpur – 11.3 million

6. Phuket, Thailand – 9.1 million

7. Hong Kong – 8.9 million

8. Pattaya – 8.1 million

9. Osaka – 7.4 million

10. Taipei – 7.4 million

Visitors to Asia Pacific destinations are travelling to the region more, and doing so for longer periods. In 2016, visitors to the region stayed for a total of 1,768.7 million nights, an 8.1% CAGR from 1,023.1 million nights in 2009. Bangkok took the lead with 87.6 million nights, while Sydney came in second place with 87.5 million, followed by Kuala Lumpur at 76.7 million.

In particular, Sydney’s second-place position is especially outstanding compared to its number of overnight arrivals. Taking 20th place in the latter ranking, Sydney’s ratio of average number nights stayed versus number of overnight arrivals is shared by fellow Australian destinations Melbourne and Brisbane on the Index. As many tourists have to travel a distance to reach Australia, they are more likely to stay for longer periods to make their journey worthwhile.

The top ten Asia Pacific destinations ranked by total nights stayed:

1. Bangkok – 87.6 million

2. Sydney – 87.5 million

3. Kuala Lumpur – 76.7 million

4. Tokyo – 74.3 million

5. Melbourne – 62.9 million

6. Bali, Indonesia – 62.4 million

7. Singapore – 60.7 million

8. Seoul – 56.0 million

9. Brisbane – 51.8 million

10. Taipei – 47.8 million

Spurred by Asia Pacific’s burgeoning middle class, overall tourism expenditure in the region jumped from US$141.5 billion in 2009 to US$244.9 billion in 2016, an 8.2% CAGR Moreover, Asia Pacific’s top 20 source markets contributed US$201.5 billion to the region’s tourism revenues in 2016.

The mass of tourists from Northeast Asia have helped to boost these earnings. Key findings from the Index revealed China (17.7%) and South Korea (8.8%) as the largest contributors to tourism expenditure in Asia Pacific. In fact, these two markets were also top source markets for Singapore (China visitors were the No. 1 tourist segment), Bangkok (China  No. 1) and Tokyo (Korea No. 1, China No. 2), the region’s leading destinations by visitor expenditure. As renowned global shopping and dining locales, they are popular amongst affluent Chinese and South Korean tourists seeking new shopping or culinary experiences.

The top ten Asia Pacific destinations ranked by expenditure:

1. Singapore – US$15.4 billion

2. Bangkok – US$12.7 billion

3. Tokyo – US$11.1 billion

4. Taipei – US$9.9 billion

5. Seoul – US$9.4 billion

6. Bali – US$8.7 billion

7. Phuket – US$8.3 billion

8. Kuala Lumpur – US$7.3 billion

9. Sydney – US$6.8 billion

10. Hong Kong– US$6.6 billion


Download the Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index 2017 report

*The Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index is an offshoot of Mastercard’s annual Global Destination Cities Index. In recent years, Asia Pacific cities have increasingly dominated the fastest growing and most visited destinations in the world. According to the 2016 Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, five of the ten most visited cities in the world were in Asia Pacific.

The Asia Pacific Destinations Index takes a more in-depth, focused look at these tourism trends, ranking 171 destinations, including island resorts as well as towns and cities across the region, in terms of the total number of international overnight arrivals; cross-border spending; and the total number of nights spent at each destination. These 171 destinations are drawn from 22 countries across Asia Pacific and represent 90% of all international overnight arrivals within the region.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the destinations, using custom-made algorithms. This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on Mastercard volumes or transactional data.

*Overnight visitors stay at least one night in the destination country.