London Tops Global Destination as Most Visited City

Mastercard Travel

News about the most popular travel destination is out! During a recent survey, MasterCard unveiled their fourth annual Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI), revealing London as the most popular travel destination in the world. The British capital reclaimed the most popular spot based on air travel into the city from a whopping 18.69 million international visitors in 2014, besting last year’s most popular destination, Bangkok, by more than 2 million visitors.

Where else are people traveling? 

Rounding out the top five cities are Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai, which are benefiting from a surge in international travel fueled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and rising need for business travel. The index also indicates this surge will continue, even with more technology and collaboration tools available to businesses.

According to the study, London is projected to receive 18.7 million international visitors in 2014. Forecasted visitors to the rest of the top five cities include:

  • Bangkok – 16.42 million
  • Paris – 15.57 million visitors
  • Singapore – 12.47 million visitors
  • Dubai – 11.95 million visitors

Check out some of the key data highlights and travel trends:

  • Who’s traveling to the most popular destination in the world? Visitors to London come most often by way of New York, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Stockholm and Dublin.
  • Interestingly, Dubai is poised to eclipse Paris and Singapore as a more popular city than within five years if it continues to show such healthy growth number (it saw an increase of 7.5% and recorded $10.9 billion in visitor spend).
  • Perhaps the most surprising result this year is that Lima, Peru broke through as the first Latin American city to rank in the top 20most popular destinations in the world and had more than double the visitors (5.11 million) as presumed more popular cities: Mexico City (2.57 million) or Sao Paulo (2.51 million).
  • Movers & Shakers: Istanbul saw the greatest percentage change in visitors from 2013 to 2014 with 17.5% more visitors, while Amsterdam bested Milan for 12th place, pushing the Italian city of fashion to #13.
  • New York was notably the only North American city to crack the top 10 (or even the top 20!) list of top destinations worldwide.
  •  Within North America, behind New York the top cities remained unchanged YOY - Los Angeles (#2), Miami (#3), Toronto (#4) and San Francisco (#5).
  • New York is seeing a boom of visitors from the East and the South – visitors from Beijing jumped 17.5% and Sao Paolo increased 6% compared to 2013
  • Not surprisingly, many of the “upwardly mobile” destination cities are in emerging markets because of their growing air connectivity and fast improving infrastructure. In fact, seven out of the 10 fastest growing “air hubs” (a city’s connectivity by air with the rest of the world) are in emerging markets.
  • The growth of air travel and cross-border spending has consistently exceeded world GDP growth between 2009 – 2014
  • Emerging markets are seeing an expansion of the middle class – which is giving way to a rapid growth in tourism
  • Despite the ease of communications and connectivity that the internet and digital world has created, business travel needs continue to rise
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Additional information about MasterCard travel resources can be found at

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