Between the region’s tourism-friendly policies, low-cost connectivity, and weak currencies, Asia is one of the fastest-growing tourism markets in the world.
The region is home to six out of the top 10 cities in terms of international visitor arrivals for 2018, according to a new study from GlobalData, an analytics firm.
Bangkok tops the list in the region and in the world for last year when it comes to growth in international visitors, while additional top-10-ranked Asian cities include: Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Shenzhen from Asia were among the top 10 destinations for international visitors last year.
From Europe, London and Paris made the top 10, which also included Middle Eastern hotspot Dubai, as well as New York City, in the United States.
“Visitors from China and European countries are driving the growth of international arrivals to Asian cities,” said Aditi Dutta Chowdhury, an economic research analyst for GlobalData. “Tourism friendly visa policies of Thailand, strong promotional efforts and low-cost connectivity have made Bangkok as the top international destination. In addition, weak Asian currencies along with the diversity of visitor interests in Asian cities played a vital role in attracting international visitors.”
Greater London was the second most preferred destination on the list in terms of international visitor arrivals, which the report attributed to the city being a key global financial hub and home to many leisure tourist attractions.
Depreciation in the value of British pound since the 2016 Brexit referendum has also fueled growth of international visitors, said the report authors. Nearly 50 percent of international visits to London are for leisure purposes, according to GlobalData.
Paris meanwhile, attracted 13.2 million foreign visitors last year, which is not shocking given the city’s famed cultural heritage, art, monuments, and café culture.
The tourism sector accounted for about nine percent of the total employment in the greater Paris region in 2018, said GlobalData.
Dubai led the Middle East and North Africa region in visitor arrivals last year, a fact that was helped along by Dubai’s visa on arrival and 30-day and 90-day free visa policy offered to countries such as China, India, Russia, the US, and the UK.
The study also found that of all the cities in the top 10, Tokyo exhibited the fastest growth of international visitors between 2014 and 2018. Visitors to the Japanese city increased 60.5 percent during the four-year period.
“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,” states the report.
Global destinations meanwhile witnessed a huge influx of Chinese visitors while countries such as South Korea and Japan also became key source markets.
Demand for China outbound tourism grew continuously in line with the rise in personal disposable income, according to GlobalData.
In fact, according to the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), outbound travel has grown a staggering 262 percent 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 as well, according to the new report.
The Indian outbound visitors’ number has been growing at an average annual rate of 9.2 percent since 2008.
According to estimates from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 50 million Indian tourists will visit global destinations by 2020.