Six out of the top 10 cities in terms of international visitor arrivals in 2018 were from Asia, with tourism friendly policies, low cost connectivity and weak currencies playing a vital role in attracting international visitors to the region, according to a new study by GlobalData.
Research from the data and analytics company found that Asian countries, namely, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Shenzhen, were among the top 10 destinations by international visitors in 2018.
Greater London and Greater Paris from Europe, Dubai from Middle East and New York City from the US were the other cities that featured in the top 10 list.
GlobalData’s economic research analyst Aditi Dutta Chowdhury said: “Visitors from China and European countries are driving the growth of international arrivals to Asian cities. Tourism friendly visa policies of Thailand, strong promotional efforts and low cost connectivity have made Bangkok the top international destination. In addition, weak Asian currencies along with diversity of visitor interests in Asian cities played a vital role in attracting international visitors.”
Greater London was the second most preferred destination in terms of international visitor arrivals. The city being the key financial hub of the world and home to leisure tourist attractions were the main reasons for the high influx of international visitors last year.
Depreciation in the value of British pound since the Brexit referendum in 2016 has further fuelled the growth of international visitors to Greater London. Nearly 50 per cent of international visits to London in 2018 were for leisure purposes.
A total of 13.2 million foreign visitors visited Greater Paris in 2018. Cultural heritage, art, monuments and café culture were some of the main visitor attractions in the Greater Paris region.
The tourism sector accounted for approximately nine per cent of the total employment in the Greater Paris region in 2018.
Dubai led the Middle East and North Africa region in terms of visitor arrivals. Visa-on-arrival as well as 30-day and 90-day free visa policy offered to countries, including China, India, Russia, the US and the UK, have significantly contributed to the growth of visitor arrivals to Dubai city.
Among the top 10 cities, Tokyo exhibited the sharpest growth of 60.5 per cent in international visitor arrivals during the period of 2014 to 2018. The growth of international visitor arrivals in Tokyo was aided by initiatives by the public and private sector to promote Tokyo’s tourism and create a welcoming environment for visitors, along with measures taken to relax visa requirements for foreign visitors from Asia and other regions.
Global destinations witnessed a huge influx of Chinese visitors while countries such as South Korea and Japan are also named as the key source markets.
Demand for China outbound tourism grew continuously in line with rise in personal disposable income. According to the China National Tourism Administration, outbound travel grew by 262 per cent since 2008 and is expected to reach 166 million departures by 2019.
India, which has a large and increasingly affluent middle class, has huge potential as a key source market to the global destinations.
The Indian outbound visitor numbers has been growing at an average annual rate of 9.2 per cent since 2008. According to UNWTO’s estimates, 50 million Indian tourists will visit global destinations by 2020.