From island escapes to iconic metropolises, the world’s most popular international travel destinations have been revealed.
More than 20 million people from across the globe visited Bangkok last year, making the Thai capital the world’s most popular travel destination, according to Mastercard’s 2018 Global Destination Cities Index.
London was a close second to with 19.83 million international visitors in 2017, followed by Paris with 17.44 million, Dubai with 15.79 million, Singapore with 13.91 million, and New York with 13.13 million visitors.
Thailand took out three spots on the top 20, with tourist hub Phuket attracting 9.29 million visitors in 2017, and the beachside city of Pattaya drawing 8.67 million.
Spain also made the list three times, with 8.78 million tourists flocking to resort city Palma, the capital of Majorca—one of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.
Barcelona’s Parc Guell, designed by modernist architect Antoni Gaudi, is a top tourist attraction in the Catalonian capital. Photo: Getty
More than 8.69 million people visiting cultural and economic metropolis Barcelona, famous for its distinctive landmarks designed by modernist architect Antoni Gaudi.
Despite ongoing political and economic problems, Turkey also made the list twice.
More than 10.7 million travellers to the historic city of Istanbul, while 9.42 million holidayed in the picturesque beachside resort city of Antalya.
Japan’s capital Tokyo was visited by 11.93 million international travellers in 2017, while its second largest city Osaka attracted 8.42 million visitors.
Traditionally popular tourist hotspots that weren’t as successful included Amsterdam, Rome, Shanghai, Prague, and Vienna, all of which slipped out of the top 20 in 2018.
While blue skies, cute animals and sandy beaches weren’t enough to get Australia into the world’s top travel spots, Sydney’s status as a luxury travel destination was confirmed.
The Harbour City ranked 16th on Mastercard’s list of cities where international travellers spent the most, with overseas visitors to Sydney shelling out $7.99 billion (USD) in 2017.
Middle Eastern business hub Dubai, often referred to as the “playground for the rich”, topped the list, with 15.79 million international visitors spending a staggering $29.80 billion (USD) last year.
Islam’s holiest city and pilgrimage destination Mecca came in second, with 9.18 million visitors spending $18.45 billion (USD) in 2017.