Bangkok has been ranked No.1 in the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI) for international overnight visitors for the fourth straight year, and the sixth time in the past decade.
Thailand is the only country in this year’s GDCI with three cities in the global top 20 for international overnight visitors (Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya) and two cities in the global top 10 for spending by international overnight visitors (Bangkok and Phuket).
The GDCI 2019 ranks 200 cities based on proprietary Mastercard analysis of visitor volume and spending in 2018.
Annual international overnight visitors spent more than US$20 billion in Bangkok, a 15% increase from 2017, while in Phuket they spent more than $12 billion, a 9% increase year-on-year, according to Mastercard.
Hat Yai, with growth of over 19%, recorded the highest increase, mostly from Malaysian visitors.
China was Thailand’s largest origin market, even as several of Thailand’s famous holiday destinations – particularly the islands – saw an increase in visitors from Europe and Japan.
Visitors from Germany topped island destinations such as Phangnga (25.1%), Koh Samui (17.1%), Koh Tao (11.4%) and Koh Chang (11.3%).
Japanese visitors accounted for 25.5% of arrivals in Ayutthaya, the nation’s ancient capital, an increase of 1.7% from 2017, accoding to Mastercard.
The study also highlighted several emerging destinations, including Koh Phangan, which joined the top 100 for Asia-Pacific at 96.
Koh Phangan overtook island locations like Koh Chang (139), Koh Tao (130), Boracay in the Philippines (129) and Lombok in Indonesia (110). Hat Yai (31) jumped 27 places in 2018.
The GDCI helps public and private sector tourism partners around the world understand how international travel is impacting cities, identify challenges and gauge how to deliver more connected and inclusive experiences.