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Travel New Study Reveals Asia Pacific's Most Popular Travel Destinations

New Study Reveals Asia Pacific's Most Popular Travel Destinations

Wat Arun at sunset (photo: Getty Images)
Wat Arun at sunset (photo: Getty Images)
By Kaitlyn McInnis
September 05, 2019
These five cities attract a quarter of all travel spending in the region

Mastercard’s annual Asia Pacific Destinations Index found that Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul have emerged as the region's biggest travel hotspots. The five destinations alone attracted over one-fifth of all overnight visitors to the region last year, among the 161 cities studied.

This should come as no surprise, given the results from the year prior were not so different. In fact, the region’s top four travel destinations in 2018 remained unchanged from the previous year.

For the ninth year running, Bangkok retained top spot, with many of its visitors originating from Mainland China, Japan, South Korea, India, and the United Kingdom. The most popular attractions included the Grand Palace, Wat Arun  and the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

Singapore closely followed Bangkok, while Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo held onto the third and fourth spots, respectively. Seoul was the only new destination to make it into the top five destinations from the previous year, having beat out the Thai island of Phuket.

Asia Pacific cities as a collective have seen the largest increase in international travellers since the study’s inception in 2009, which shows a 9% increase from Mainland China travellers alone, with more than 62.4 million travellers in 2018 versus just 10.5 million in 2009. China now represents the world’s second-largest outbound travel market after the United States.

In terms of the fastest growing travel destination, Okinawa, Japan takes the top spot, rising 109 places in the rankings since the study’s inception a decade ago. The city of Ludhiana in India’s northern state of Punjab was the second fastest growing, which rose 78 spots since 2009.

“While the world’s economic, geopolitical, technological and societal landscapes have all changed dramatically since Mastercard launched this research 10 years ago, one thing has remained constant: the desire of ever-growing numbers of people to explore the world beyond their own borders,” said Rupert Naylor, Senior Vice President, Data & Services, Asia Pacific, Mastercard in a statement.

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