Colombo Fastest Growing City in the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index

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Colombo leads the pack as the fastest growing city in terms of international, overnight visitor numbers in the annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index. The rapid rise in tourism after the end of Sri Lanka’s long running civil war brought about Colombo’sdouble-digit cumulative annual growth rateover the last six years.Seven of the top ten fastest growing cities by visitor number over thisperiod are in Asia.Forecasted top ten fastest growing cities:

1.       Colombo – 21.1%

2.       Chengdu – 20.7%

3.       AbuDhabi– 20.4%

4.       Osaka – 19.8%

5.       Riyadh – 18.0%

6.       Xi An – 16.2%

7.       Taipei – 14.9%

8.       Tokyo – 14.6%

9.       Lima – 13.9%

10.   Ho ChiMinh City – 12.9%


In addition, Asian cities continue to dominate of the Index, making up half of the top ten. Bangkok has retained its position at number twowith 18.24 million international overnight visitors and is catching up with top-ranked city, London. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Hong Kong round off the top ten, taking seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth place respectively.Forecasted international overnight visitors tothe top ten cities:

1.       London – 18.82 million

2.       Bangkok – 18.24 million

3.       Paris – 16.06 million

4.       Dubai – 14.26 million

5.       Istanbul – 12.56 million


6.       New York – 12.27 million

7.       Singapore – 11.88 million

8.       Kuala Lumpur – 11.12 million

9.       Seoul – 10.35 million

10.   Hong Kong – 8.66 million

Driven by insights into travel patterns, the Global Destinations CitiesIndex provides a ranking of the 132 most visited cities from around the world. More than just a travel tracker, the Index provides an understanding of how people move around the world and the importance of the world’s cities as homes, destinations and engines of growth.

Report in full can be downloaded from here:

Vikas Varma, Executive Director, South Asia for MasterCard, commented,Colombo’s ranking as the fastest growing city on MasterCard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index reflects the rising appeal of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination. Having been in the market for over 25 years, MasterCard sees great potential in the island nation. We will continue to showcase Sri Lankaas a premier tourist destinationacross our network,offering several exciting benefits and privileges for travelers.” 

DrYuwa Hedrick-Wong, Chief Economist and Chair of the Academic Advisory Council at the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, said, “Against a background of generally weak global economic growth and anemic pace of exports, a vibrant tourism sector is providing a powerful boost to income and job creation in Asia Pacific. As shown by MasterCard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index, Asian cities dominate among the leading destinations in the world in attracting international visitors arriving by air. Even more astonishing is that seven out of the world’s top ten fastest growing destination cities are in Asia Pacific, which is a strong leading indicator of their continuing outstanding performance in the years to come.”

Growth of the East: The resilience of Asian Destination Cities

The majority of visitors to cities in Asia originate from within Asia Pacific. This may help to explain the continued growth of visitor numbers over the last five years as European and North American markets experienced economic slowdown. The top five feeder cities to Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in 2015 are all in Asia Pacific. However, this shows the lack of diversity in the origin of visitors to many destinations in Asia, which presents risks to long term resilience to any global economic shocks. The challenge going forward for many of these otherwise very successful destination cities is to diversify their sources of visitors while maintaining their robust rates of growth. Nevertheless, globally, international overnight visitor numbers and their cross-border spending have consistently grown faster than world real GDP since 2009.

About the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index

The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2015.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on MasterCard volumes or transactional data.