Despite our popular beaches and champagne-worthy sunsets, surprisingly not a single Australian city ranked in the world’s most visited cities.
Instead, for the third year in a row, Bangkok is the top international destination in the world. Bangkok welcomed 20.05 million visitors in 2017 and is predicted to host nine per cent more in 2018, making it the world’s most visited city, according to Mastercard’s annual Global Destination Cities Index.
The annual list looks at visitor volume and spend in the world’s largest cities. The popular Thai capital beat London (19.83 million), Paris (17.44 million), Dubai (15.79 million) and Singapore (13.91 million). The index found visitors tend to stay in Bangkok 4.7 nights and spend $173 per day, on average. New York, the only North American city to feature in the top ten, ranked sixth with 13.13 million international visitors.
“London, Bangkok and the other top destinations are all so different yet have one thing in common: they’ve figured out how to capture the imaginations — and dollars — of visitors,” Mastercard’s executive vice president for Global Cities, Miguel Gamiño Jr, told Forbes.
“Without a doubt, travellers are a critical driver of economic activity in these destination cities. They’re spending on everything from hotels and taxis to restaurants and spas to clothes and other goods.”
New cities in the top 20 list include Pattaya and Phuket, Palma de Mallorca, Mecca and the Turkish city of Antalya. However, Prague, Vienna, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Rome fell from last year’s top 20.
And while Bangkok was the world’s most visited city in 2017, Dubai was where visitors emptied their pockets the most, with a total of $29.7 billion spent in 2017.
It is followed by Mecca, Saudi Arabia ($18.45 billion; $135 per day); London ($17.45 billion; $153 per day); Singapore ($17.02 billion; $286 per day) and Bangkok ($16.36 billion; $173 per day).
Despite not making the top 20 list, Australia is still among the world’s 10 happiest countries, despite dropping one place, according to a United Nations report.
Using data from Gallup World Poll Surveys from 2015 to 2017, Finland topped the World Happiness Report 2018 list, with Australia slipping from ninth to tenth place behind Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden.