Bangkok and Singapore top Asian players

Posted on September 28, 2018


Bangkok was top of the pile in the latest Mastercard index based on a combination of tourist arrivals and spend volume, while for tourist spend alone, Singapore topped all Asian destinations and was ranked 4th on the global spend list.

Asian destinations again feature highly in this year’s Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, with five Asian cities – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Seoul – making up half of the top 10 destinations.

The Mastercard Index, which expanded this year to look at 162 cities, claims to be more than simply a ranking of the top travel destinations.

Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2017 calendar year, the analysis also provides a growth forecast for 2018 and for the first time a view into average length of stay and amount spent per day.

With the global economy buzzing, the annual growth of international overnight visitors to the top 10 destination cities was up in 2017 except for Seoul, which saw a dip, from seventh to 10th place.

The forecast for 2018 indicates across-the-board growth, with Bangkok (9.6%) expecting the largest uptick in visitors.

Bangkok remains top destination worldwide. With roughly 20 million international overnight visitors in 2017, visitors tend to stay in Bangkok 4.7 nights and spend USD173 per day on average.

The Global Top 10 Destination Cities – Asia

Global Rank Asian Destinations 2017 International Overnight Visitors Growth Forecast for 2018 Average Length of Stay Average Spend Per Day
1 Bangkok 20.05 million 9.6% 4.7 nights $173
5 Singapore 13.91 million 4.0% 4.3 nights $286
7 Kuala Lumpur 12.58 million 7.5% 5.5 nights $124
8 Tokyo 11.93 million 1.6% 6.5 nights $154
10 Seoul 9.54 million 6.1% 4.2 nights $181


China top source country for travel to Asia-Pacific
Southeast Asian cities, such as Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Pattaya, and Bali are fast becoming must-visit destinations for Chinese tourists. Phuket is the most popular destination for Chinese tourists, with a growth rate of 56.1% in the last eight years (2009 – 2017, CAGR basis).

Asian Destinations Percentage share of arrivals from China
Bangkok 34.3%
Singapore 18.4%
Kuala Lumpur 16.8%
Tokyo 19.8%
Seoul 31.1%
Phuket 28.8%
Pattaya 31.3%
Bali 24.3%


Daily travel spend
As one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world, Southeast Asia attracted some of the highest spending visitors. The top three Southeast Asian destinations within the Global Top 10 by Expenditure – Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket – captured USD43.85 billion of total expenditure by international overnight tourists.

Singapore, a renowned shopper’s destination in Asia-Pacific, retained its lead as the top city in terms of visitor expenditure, attracting the highest spending visitors at USD286 per day.

Newcomer to the Index, Phuket, Thailand, debuted straight in the Top 10 destinations list, with an average daily spend of USD239, the second highest in the sub-region.

Top Cities by Dollars Spent – Asia

Global Rank Asian Destinations 2017 International Overnight Visitor Spend (USD) Forecast for 2018 Average Spend by Day
4 Singapore $17.02 billion 7.4% $286
5 Bangkok $16.36 billion 13.8% $173
9 Tokyo $11.91 billion 7.76% $154
10 Phuket $10.46 billion 12.6% $239


Insights into local spend
The Index has identified expenditure categories that illustrate how people are spending when they visit the top Asian destination cities:

Across the Asia-Pacific region, visitors to Bali spent the highest percentage of their total expenditure on accommodation (44.6%) and spent the least on shopping (13.4%).

Visitors to Hong Kong (22.2%) and Osaka (22.4%) spend the most on food, whereas visitors to Singapore spend the least on dining (12.9%).

People are spending the most on shopping when visiting Osaka (43.4%), Tokyo (43.1%), and Seoul (47.4%).

Underscoring the importance of a robust infrastructure, leisure attractions and strong local culture, Japanese cities Okinawa (39.2%), Kyoto (27.8%), and Osaka (23.6%) are the fastest growing destination cities in Asia-Pacific over the last eight years (2009 – 2017, CAGR basis).

About Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index

The Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities in 2017, and gives international overnight visitor growth forecasts for 2018.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 162 destination cities.

Forecasts are based upon the weighted average of the national level tourism forecasts and the actual 2018 monthly data at the destination level, which is available to the latest month before release.

This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on Mastercard volumes or transactional data.

Posted in: Bangkok