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Top 100 most visited cities and future travel trends revealed by Euromonitor at WTM London

Hong Kong is the most visited city in the world, followed by Bangkok, which has overtaken London in 2015. Heraklion and Athens are the best performing cities in Europe, with double digit growth in 2017 as they offer a similar climate as neighbouring countries affected by terrorism and unrest in the MENA region.

Euromonitor International and World Travel Market London have released a new report which highlights the key future trends set to shape the travel industry and revealing the most visited cities in the world in terms of international arrivals in 2016, showing also forecast data through to 2025. The report also shows which are the most visited cities and fastest-growing in Europe.
According to the report, Hong Kong is the most visited city in the world, followed by Bangkok, which has overtaken London in 2015. Asian cities dominate the global destination rankings thanks to the inexorable rise of Chinese outbound tourism. Wouter Geerts, Senior Travel Analyst at Euromonitor International, comments: “Asia Pacific is the standout region that has driven change in the travel landscape and is expected to continue doing so in the coming decade with Singapore overtaking London as the third most visited city in the world by 2025 making the podium fully Asian.”

On the contrary, the performance of European cities has been hampered by the Eurozone and migrants crisis, as well as Brexit and terrorist attacks. Despite the uncertainty, some European destinations, in particular Greece, Italy and Spain have profited from unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Performance in the MENA region has fluctuated greatly in recent years, however Euromonitor forecast data show a recovery for the region in 2017 and beyond. While the Middle East and North Africa’s main challenges are wars and border disputes, Africa is looking to do the reverse: opening borders and enhancing collaboration with the African Union’s plans towards seamless border.

In stark contrast to Africa, the plans towards stronger border controls might weight heavily on America’s performance. According to Euromonitor International’s Travel Forecast Model, if the US drops out the NAFTA and imposes a 35 percent tariff on Mexican imports, followed by Mexican retaliation, the impact on inter-regional travel would be considerable. New York, the most visited city in America and the only US city in the top ten most visited city ranking, has revised its 2017 forecast expecting a potential fall of 300,000 visitors, as a worst case scenario.
The top ten most visited cities according to Euromonitor are:
1. Hong Kong: 26.5 million visitors
2. Bangkok: 21.2 million visitors
3. London: 19.2 million visitors
4. Singapore: 16.6 million visitors
5. Macau: 15.4 million visitors
6. Dubai: 14.9 million visitors
7. Paris: 14.4 million visitors
8. New York: 12.7 million visitors
9. Shenzhen: 12.6 million visitors
10. Kuala Lumpur: 12.3 million visitors

Τhe report also highlights that:

  • There are only two European cities appearing in the top ten ranking: London and Paris
  • London will move down the ranking (from 3rd to 6th) overtaken by Dubai, Macau and Singapore by 2025
  • Only two French appear in the top 100 city destinations ranking: Paris and Nice. Both of them recorded decline in 2016-2017. They are the weakest performing cities in Europe in terms of international arrivals (-1% in 2016-2017) and Nice is expected to move out of the ranking next year.
  • Three German cities appear in the ranking and all of them experience growth: Berlin ranks 24th with 5.5 mn travellers visiting the city in 2016. In 2017, international arrivals are predicted to reach 5% growth. The city is expected to receive 7.6 mn visitors in 2025. Munich ranks 59th with 3.4 mn visitors in 2016 and 3% predicted growth in 206-2017. By 2025 the city will reach 4.6 mn international arrivals. Frankfurt ranks 84th with 2.4 mn travellers in 2016 to grow 4.4%
  • Italian cities are also benefiting from the “substitution” effect. Four Italian cities appear in the ranking and all of them register growth: Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice. Although none of them appear in the top ten, the sum of arrivals to the Italian cities in the ranking exceeds the number of inbound travelers to any other European cities. Milan registered the strongest growth amongst Italian cities, still benefitting from the effect of Expo.
  • Two Spanish cities appear in the ranking: Barcelona and Madrid. Barcelona remains the most visited city in Spain with over 7 million arrivals, followed by Madrid with 5.1 million visits. However, international arrivals to Madrid (+8.8%) are expected to grow faster than in Barcelona (+8.3%)  in 2017,as in 2016.
Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.