Dubai fourth most popular tourist destination in world: MasterCard

Dubai continues to climb the ranks as one of the top destinations for international travellers.(Supplied)

Dubai continues to climb the ranks as one of the top destinations for international travellers according to the findings of the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, released on Wednesday.

Dubai has consistently advanced its position since the launch of the index, ranking eighth in 2012, seventh in 2013, fifth last year and fourth this year. London topped the list in 2015, followed by Bangkok and Paris.

“Since the inception of the Global Destination Cities Index in 2009, Dubai has continued to climb the ranks as an international travel destination for both business and leisure purposes,” said Eyad Al Kourdi, Country Manager – UAE MasterCard.

“The future ranking of the Emirate looks very promising. As Dubai gears towards Expo 2020, we’re excited to see the opportunities that will unfold to reinforce its position as a key economic driver.”

Driven by insights into travel patterns, the Global Destination Cities Index provides a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world. More than just a travel tracker, the index delivers deeper understanding of how people move around the world and speaks to the importance and prominence of the world’s cities as homes, destinations and engines of growth.

According to the study, Dubai is expected to receive almost 14.3 million international visitors in 2015, an increase of 8 per cent since 2014. When looking at the number of international overnight visitors that destination cities attract per city resident, Dubai is the world champion with 5.7 visitors per resident (an increase by 0.8 from 2014).

With that in mind, it is no surprise that the city generates more international overnight visitor expenditure per resident than any other city (estimated at $4,668, or Dh17,145).

“We continue to see international visitors and their spending play an increasingly critical role in boosting economic dynamism in destination cities around the world,” explains Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor to MasterCard. 

“The global economic recovery remains tentative and uneven, and demand for exports continues to be weak. In this context, stronger growth in international visitors and spending can make a significant contribution to income and employment generation for the destination cities.”

Dubai was also ranked as the third air hub in the world by international connectivity and is the only city from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) on the Top 10 air hubs list.

Intellectual insights: Understanding what drives global cities

In 2015, it is expected that nearly 383 million overnight trips will be made by international visitors between the index’s 132 cities, representing a massive demand for goods, services and experiences as they spend a total of $360 billion during their visits.

According to the UN report on World Urbanisation Prospects, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. By forecasting the number of international overnight travellers, the Global Destination Cities Index shows the infrastructure needed to meet the expectations of both locals and visitors.

Businesses and governments can use the insights from the study to identify those areas – from transit to cultural experiences to infrastructure – in which investment is needed for continued growth, innovation and sustainability.

Other notable findings include:

•The top five origin cities for Dubai are Doha, London, Kuwait, Muscat, and Jeddah.

• Dubai is fifth in resilience, with 17 feeder cities accounting for 50 per cent of its international visitors. The more feeder cities that account for 50 per cent of a city’s international visitors, the more diversified the source of international visitors a destination city has, and with everything else being equal, the more resilient it becomes.

•In MEA, Dubai continues to retain its top rank for international overnight visitors. Other top cities in the region include Johannesburg (4.4 million), Riyadh (4.27 million), Abu Dhabi (2.7 million) and Cape Town (1.96 million).

At 20.4 per cent, Abu Dhabi continues to register the strongest visitor growth rate in the MEA region.
Consumer experience: Priceless cities provide opportunities money cannot buy

MasterCard says it has developed consumer marketing programmes to support the significant role cities play as centres of human interaction. In fact, six of the top 10 Global Destination Cities are also Priceless Cities – MasterCard’s global platform that connects consumers’ passions around arts and culture, sports and entertainment and dining experiences.

Destination cities: spotting trends

Across the globe, a few key trends stand out, including:

•Asia/Pacific – The region is home to three of the top four fastest-growing destination cities between 2009 and 2015 – Colombo, Chengdu and Osaka.

•Europe – Istanbul is the most diversified destination, with 50 per cent of its international overnight visitors coming from 33 feeder cities.

• Latin America – Lima is both the top destination and the fastest growing city in the region, featuring almost 50 per cent more international overnight visitors than second-ranked Mexico City.

• Middle East and Africa – Dubai continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the global top ten while Abu Dhabi is the third fastest-growing destination city overall between 2009 and 2015. 

•North America – Houston is the fastest-growing city in North America since 2009 and is the only destination city in North America with double-digit growth.


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