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Top 100 most visited cities and future travel trends revealed

Profile Photo By: Carsten Hennig
November 7, 2017

Top 100 most visited cities and future travel trends revealed

London – 7 November 2017 –
For the first time, Euromonitor International unveils the Top 100 City Destinations Ranking 2017 Edition at World Travel Market (WTM) London, the leading travel and tourism event worldwide. This year’s report incorporates future travel trends to give further insight on how travel trends are borne out of the opportunities and challenges that cities face.

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 the 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

The 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. Delhi will also enter the top ten by 2025, overtaking several cities including Paris and New York.
  • Only two French appear in the top 100 city destinations ranking: Paris and Nice. Both of them recorded decline in 2016-2017. These 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 top 100 city 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%
  • 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
  • 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 appears in the top ten, the sum of arrivals to the Italian cities in the ranking exceeds the number of inbound travellers 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
  • Johannesburg is the only Sub-Saharian city in the top 100 cities destinations ranking and registers 7.2% growth in 2016-2017
  • In the top ten, the only city in mainland China is Shenzhen with almost double the visits than Shanghai. While growth in international arrivals to China is timid, the importance of China in determining the global ranking is important, as the outbound travel from China is relevant in making Asia Pacific the standout region in the world.
  • Tokyo ranks 13th with over 9 million international arrivals in 2016.  Osaka is the second most visited city in Japan. The number of international arrivals records 8.7% growth in 2016-2017 Kyoto ranks 72nd and is the fastest growing city in Japan with 10.4% growth in arrival in 2016-2017. The city went up five spots in the ranking. The report highlights that “Japanese cities are victim of their own success. With the strong influx of Chinese tourists in recent years, hotel rates in Tokyo and Chiba have skyrocketed, driving travellers away.”
  • Although still seeing positive growth, in 2017 international arrivals to US cities will fall behind cities in Canada and Latin America
  • Cancun is the most visited city in Mexico and in Central and Latin America. It ranks 32nd globally. It is expected to be the strongest growing city in the Americas with international arrivals increasing 16%. Mexico city record 9% growth in the number of international arrivals in 2016-2017. With 2.1 mn visits in 2016, the city went up five spots in the ranking (94). According to the report, while the USA is the largest source market, Mexico is becoming increasingly popular with visitors from Europe and Asia.

Geerts concludes: “This report drills down into the detail of the figures to highlight why some cities are performing better than others and how emerging trends are going to re-shape the travel industry and disrupt the ranking up to 2025”

For more information about the top 100 city destinations ranking and the top travel trends set to shape the industry’s future, visit

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