MasterCard has been releasing its list of cities that are most visited in a partivular year since 2011. According to Their Global Destination Cities Index for 2012 ranks Istanbul as the fastest growing destination, putting it #5 on the list after London, Paris, Bangkok and Singapore.
New York still ranked second by visitor spending (after London), which may explain all the foreign languages one hears while shopping at the Gap GPS +0.53%.
In the Asia/Pacific region, Bangkok led in the total number of visitors and visitor spending and is expected to displace Paris as the third-ranking city by visitor spending. Dubai retained its rank as #1 of the top 10 destination cities in the Middle East and Africa.
Glitz trumped history in the People’s Republic of China, with Shanghai ahead of Beijing by five ranks. And though to many minds Barcelona outcharms Madrid, Spain’s capital remained the more popular destination.
Although Rome hasn't lost any of its charm, it has slipped in popularity as a tourist destination, falling below Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Frankfurt and Dubai. Perhaps economic forces are at play.
The ten most visited cities in the world in 2012 are as under;
|London, the English Capital|
In the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, London leads the world as both the most popular destination city for overseas travelers, and in the average amount each visitor spends. Whether drawn by business or as tourists, London's visitors from New York are the ones that travel the furthest and spend the most.
|The French Capital Paris|
Paris retains its second-place rank, but has seen a decline of 0.6% in its visitor numbers, with 16 million expected to visit this year. It remains a shopping haven, though, with visitors expected to spend $17.8 billion there.
|The Thai Capital Bangkok|
Wat Arun on the Chao Phraya River is a world-famous landmark of Bangkok, which is expected to get 12.2 million visitors this year.Thailand's capital leads the Asia/Pacific region in the total number of visitors and visitor spending and is expected to displace Paris as the third-ranking city by visitor spending.
|Beautiful View of Singapore|
With a population of less than 5 million, Singapore expects 11.8 million visitors this year. Although it is a melting pot of cultures, including Indian, Chinese and Malay, English is the dominant language, and Westerners do not tend to experience the culture shock there that occurs elsewhere in the region.
|The Historical Istanbul, Turkey|
As a travel destination, Istanbul is a rising star, with sights like the Hagia Sophia mosque shown here. The number of visitors rose by 14.7%, and it moved up one rank as a popular destination since last year, displacing Hong Kong. It also has the highest growth rate in visitor spending — an impressive 20.7%
|Hong Kong, China|
7- Madrid, Spain
|The Spanish Capital Madrid|
Its architecture and museums make Madrid #4 of top European destination cities (after London, Paris and Istabul), and #7 worldwide.
|Dubai, UAE, the Shopping Capital of Middile East|
Sometimes called the shopping capital of the Middle East, Dubai has displaced Rome as the eighth most visited city in the world. It also retains its rank as number one of the top 10 destination cities in the Middle East and Africa.
This city shows growth in both the number of visitors and what they are expected to spend. With 8.1 million visitors expected this year, it's #5 in Europe's top 10 destination cities for international travelers.
|The Malaysian Capital Kuala Lumpur|
A construction boom has altered the cityscape of the downtown area of Kuala Lumpur, capital city of Malaysia. It expects 8.1 million visitors in 2012, making it #4 of the top 10 Asia/Pacific destination cities (after Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong).