Thailand’s capital has been named the world’s most-visited city for the fourth consecutive year, according to an annual ranking compiled by MasterCard. Bangkok came out on top again in 2018, beating Paris and London to the top spot with a total of 22.7 million visitors. Phuket and Pattaya also placed in the top 20 most popular locations, coming in at #14 and #15 respectively.
The MasterCard Index tracks tourism activity in 162 cities worldwide, registering the number of travellers who stay at least one night. The index offers a useful barometer of popularity in terms of volume, capacity and projected growth for each location. London was the only city in the top 10 to register a drop in international overnight visitors, declining by almost 4%. The largest growth in projected arrivals belongs to Tokyo, which showed an increase of 10% to more than 14 million.
According to the results of the survey, the majority of Bangkok’s inbound arrivals come from China, with holidaymakers from Japan, South Korea, India and the United Kingdom also showing their affection for Bangkok in the rankings. Tourism receipts also suggest the city is more than just a stopping-off point for other locations in Thailand; a number of sites and attractions have kept Bangkok’s visitors in the capital for several days. These include the city’s Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, just beyond the city limits.
Thailand’s tourism industry continues to grow at pace, accounting for approximately a fifth of the nation’s GDP. Bangkok’s continued status as the world’s most visited city suggests this growth is set to continue into 2020.