MasterCard Worldwide’s annual Global Destination Cities Index, which analyses international travel and visitor spending in 132 major cities, reported that Dubai has consistently advanced its position since the inception of the survey in 2011, ranking ninth in its launch year, eighth in 2012 and seventh this year.
Ahead of Dubai on the list is top-ranked Bangkok, with 15.98 million international visitor arrivals expected this year, followed by London (15.96m), Paris ((13.92m), Singapore (11.75m), New York (11.52m) and Istanbul (10.37m).
At 10.9%, Dubai (along with Bangkok) shows the strongest growth in arrival numbers among the top ten global markets, with 9.89 million overnight visitors expected this year.
If all top 10 destination cities maintain their current rates of growth in the next few years, Dubai will surpass Singapore and New York in 2016 and Paris in 2017 to rise to number three in terms of international visitor arrivals, said Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Global Economic Advisor for MasterCard and the author of the report.
“While the Middle East and Africa’s top ten cities lineup is exactly the same as in 2012, there is a striking difference in how far Dubai is ahead of the other cities. Its international arrival number is almost twice that of Riyadh in second rank, and about four times as high as the third-ranked Johannesburg,” Hedrick-Wong said.
The top five origin cities for Dubai are London, Kuwait, Paris, Frankfurt and Doha, and all of these are expected to grow strongly in visitor numbers in 2013. London visitors are expected to increase by 26.3% in 2013, followed by those from Paris (16.9%), Kuwait (12.4%), Doha (9.5%) and Frankfurt (9.4%).
Among the Middle East and Africa’s top ten, Abu Dhabi (ranked seventh with 1.7 million visitors) showed the strongest growth rate, with an anticipated 16.1% increase in arrivals. The index highlights that, if these rates are maintained in the coming years, Abu Dhabi will climb to joint third place in the region along with Johannesburg by 2017.
The UAE’s capital also ranked sixth among the global top 20 with regard to growth rates of international visitor arrivals between 2009 and 2013, with growth of 96.8% during this period.
In terms of international overnight visitor spend, Dubai ranks eight in the world with an estimated $10.4bn to be spent in the city during 2013. Within the Middle East and Africa, Dubai is followed by Riyadh and Beirut.
“Beirut’s position in this ranking is remarkable, given that Lebanon’s capital is not among the top ten cities in the region by visitor arrivals,” Hedrick-Wong said. “The $2.8bn expected to be spent in the capital this year reflects the attraction that the city holds for more affluent consumers.”