Bangkok to keep top spot among visitors to cities in Asia-Pacific

Bangkok will retain its leading position among Asia-Pacific cities this year, despite an 11-per-cent decline in visitors due to the political unrest that plagued Thailand since the last quarter of last year, according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. However, Singapore will take over Bangkok's top spot for international visitor spending in Asia-Pacific, with revenue up 7.6 per cent to US$14.3 billion from last year.

The city-state's projected visitor arrivals expenditure per city resident stood at $2,600, beating out London's $2,378 and second only to Dubai.

"This forecast is based on Thailand's political situation last year before the coup," Matthew Driver, president, Southeast Asia MasterCard said yesterday.

He said these estimates may change following the political change in the country and the efforts of most of Thailand's tourist organisations, both private and public, to boost the confidence of international visitors.

The top 10 Asia-Pacific countries are Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai and Beijing. Bangkok fell to second in the world, behind London. London will post an 8-per-cent increase in visitors in the first five months of this year from the same period last year.

About 42 per cent of the visitors to Bangkok are from outside the region. The top five feeder cities to Bangkok by international overnight visitors are Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai.

Southeast Asian cities also show promising growth rates with Jakarta projected to see 18.8 per cent followed by Hanoi at 15.1 per cent and Manila at 14.3 per cent. Kuala Lumpur, despite a marginally lower projected growth rate of 13.1 per cent, makes it into Asia-Pacific's top 10 for international visitors by sheer arrival numbers. The Malaysian capital also boasts the second-highest growth rate in the global top 20.

Matthew Driver, president of Southeast Asia at MasterCard, said yesterday that this index serves as a gauge for understanding the global economy and travel-driven connectivity and capacity across the world.

The prominence of Southeast Asian cities on the index demonstrates the importance that trade and tourism play in these economies, all of which have clearly benefited from a deliberate and ongoing investment in travel capacity and infrastructure.

Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic adviser to MasterCard, said international visitors and their spending are powerful transformational forces in destination cities from the business, social and culture perspectives.