Four Asian markets account for 20% of global travel spend

The US remains the third most visited destination for travellers from mainland China; a Chinese tourist at the Grand Canyon pictured

Overnight visitors from mainland China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan now account for 18.5% of global travel expenditure in the world’s top 200 cities, up from just 11% a decade ago.

This is according to Mastercard’s new breakout report, Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI): Origins, which ranks where the most international travellers originate, and the most popular destinations.

The US remains the third most visited destination for travellers from mainland China; a Chinese tourist at the Grand Canyon pictured

Business and leisure travellers from the top 10 origin markets comprise nearly half (49.1%) of all overnight international visitor arrivals to the 200 destinations and 48.4% of their total expenditure.

In 2018, the global travel industry contributed a record US$8.8 trillion and 319 million jobs, and these insights help drive decision-making on how to attract international travellers and better cater to their needs.

The top 10 origin markets are, respectively, the US, China, Germany, the UK, France, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Russia and Taiwan.

“What’s most fascinating for us from an Asia-Pacific perspective is the fact that, not only has this region’s spend contribution to global travel expenditure nearly doubled in the last decade, but we’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of percentages of the populations that are traveling overseas,” said Rupert Naylor, senior vice president, data & services, Asia-Pacific, Mastercard.

“This is particularly significant in mainland China, India and Indonesia – three of the most populated places on Earth – where only 1, 0.5 and 1.7 overnight international trips were made per 100 residents to the 200 destinations in 2018, demonstrating the vast and still emerging potential of tourism and travel from these markets. This represents significant opportunities for local governments and businesses to leverage these insights to better plan and promote their travel, tourism and retail offerings.”

The figures contrast sharply with Australia where 42.7 overnight international trips per 100 residents were made to the 200 cities in 2018.

The GDCI report also revealed other encouraging findings that illustrate the region’s potential economic growth from travel and tourism:

Asia-Pacific markets comprised 40% of the top 20 origins markets in the index with Australia coming in 11th, India 12th, Indonesia 19th and Malaysia 20th.

Residents of South Korea and Taiwan are travelling overseas more than ever – breaking into and recording the biggest jumps in the top 10, moving up six and four spots respectively since 2009.

While Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, ranks 19th on the origins index (with a 4.6% CAGR), its travellers rank seventh in terms of travel expenditure growth over the past decade (9.7%), demonstrating their increasing and outsized purchasing power.

Travellers from Asia are still largely choosing to visit destinations within the region which bodes well for intra-Asia growth.

Meanwhile, the US remains the third most visited destination for business and leisure travellers from mainland China, and the number one most visited by residents of Japan and Australia (when adding up the sum of visitors to all GDCI cities within each market).

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