London gets knocked off the top spot in figures released from Euromonitor International Top City Destinations Ranking, covering 100 of the world’s leading and most dynamic cities in terms of international tourist arrivals.
After recording a decline in 2009, international arrivals to countries regained growth in 2010. Star performers in 2010 were emerging city destinations located in Asia Pacific, thanks to a strong economic environment and growing travel and tourism dynamism. Most European cities lagged behind as a result of the weak economic prospects in the Eurozone, which impacted intra-regional travel.
Top three destinations
In 2010, Hong Kong, Singapore and London were the most popular city destinations worldwide. Hong Kong topped the ranking with almost 20 million arrivals in 2010 and an outstanding 18% increase compared to 2009. The booming economy of Hong Kong coupled with its growing appeal as a travel and tourism destination is drawing more business and leisure travellers each year. In 2010, mainland China remained the largest source market for Hong Kong, accounting for approximately 60% of arrivals.Singapore was the second most visited city, attracting 18 million tourists in 2010 – 16% more than in 2009. The Singapore Tourism Board launched a 3-pronged approach – Innovation, Integration and Productivity – in 2010 that focused on luxury travel, travel accommodation and tourist attractions throughout the city.
London closely followed Hong Kong and Singapore in third position, with 15 million arrivals in 2010. London is by far the most popular city in Europe, benefiting from a wide mix of entertainment options, including historical sites, art galleries and restaurants, which make it highly appealing for all kind of visitors. Nevertheless, the city is under pressure, having recorded sluggish 3% growth in 2010 in the face of increased competition from other destinations like Hong Kong and New York City.
Top City Destinations Ranking 2010
|% volume growth
|Previous Rank 2009|
|New York City||8||8,961||4.2||6|
|Sharm el Sheikh||45||2,558||10.0||58|
|Ho Chi Minh||50||2,435||28.4||62|
|Rio de Janeiro||63||1,929||7.0||38|
Off the List from 2009 – Stockholm (ranked 41 in 2009), Oslo (ranked 68 in 2009), Tel Aviv (ranked 74 in 2009), Wellington (ranked 88 in 2009), Sofia (ranked 97 in 2009), Montreal (ranked 99 in 2009), and Palma da Mallorca (ranked 100 in 2009).
Vietnamese cities record robust growth
Vietnamese cities, Ho Chi Minh City and Halong, recorded the strongest growth in arrivals, at around 28%, in 2010. Rising disposable incomes and improving living standards in Asia Pacific were key contributing factors, as travelling became more affordable. It is also worth noting that improved government policies in Vietnam helped attract more inbound tourists in 2010.
Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. It is the centre of the country’s economy, contributing one-third of Vietnam’s GDP. The city is famous for its remnants from the French War and US War, such as Independent Palace, Notre Dame Saigon (Immaculate Conception Cathedral Basilica), War Remnants Museum, and many modern skyscrapers. It also houses the busiest airport in Vietnam, and acts as the transfer point for many tourists who want to visit other places in the country.
Halong is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The bay features thousands of limestone hills and mountains in various sizes and shapes. The limestone in this bay is said to have gone through 500,000 years of formation. With beautiful landscapes, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam.
Upcoming sporting events to foster future visits in Kiev, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro
Upcoming large sporting events like the Euro 2012 football championship, the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games are expected to be the main drivers of inbound tourism development in host cities such as Kiev, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in the near future. In preparation for these events, all cities are aggressively investing in infrastructure development, which is set to positively impact the future of travel and tourism. In Kiev, for example, government authorities are paying special attention to the modernisation of airports as these will serve as points of arrival for most Western Europeans. All major events are key to boosting travel and tourism before, during and after the events through increased awareness of the host cities, mainly as leisure tourism destinations.
Tokyo rebounded strongly in 2010, after recording a 17% decline in arrivals in the previous year. The removal of the ban on visas for individual Chinese travellers back in July 2009, coupled with the completion of expansion projects at Narita International Airport and Tokyo Haneda Airport during 2010, were key in fostering inbound flows during 2010. Ongoing support for the Visit Japan Campaign (VJC) was also key in attracting more tourists to the city in 2010 from India, Russia and Malaysia. However, the tsunami disaster in March 2011 will lead to declining arrivals in the near term.
Antalya welcomes new tourists
As growth in arrivals from main source countries like France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria slowed significantly in 2010, Antalya saw a new wave of tourists from the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Eastern European countries, including Iran, Japan and Russia, flock to the city. This resulted in a strong 20% rise in arrivals in 2010, to almost 11 million tourists, up from nine million in 2009.
With very long coastal areas and a great deal of natural beauty, Antalya works as a magnet for tourists from colder countries like Russia. In the past few years, golf tourism has also turned into an important growth driver for tourists travelling to the city. In Turkey, most golf facilities are in the vicinity of tourist resorts, around the coastal regions which have the necessary facilities like accommodation, restaurants and entertainment. The Ministry of Tourism plans to establish another 11 golf courses in these tourist areas as well as in Istanbul.
Steady growth ahead
Euromonitor International foresees an even stronger growth for arrivals in 2011. Uncertainty in the global economy, especially in the US and Europe, which are major tourism source markets, is likely to cause slower, but still positive, growth. The hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games in London is likely to alleviate some of the pressure felt by the UK city as a tourist destination as it benefits from increased media exposure and stronger arrivals in the short term. Euromonitor International expects cities in emerging markets to continue to steal share of global arrivals, especially in Asia Pacific. This shift will be accelerated by the expansion of low-cost carriers, open skies agreements and rising middle classes that are travelling in ever greater numbers, especially intra-regionally. This is likely to give rise to international city break packages from travel retailers.
Given the uncertain economic outlook for developed markets, there is still the challenge of a possible shift in consumer behaviour. With less disposable income, travellers may be prone to taking fewer and shorter trips to save money. Also, cost-conscious consumers will use the internet to run price comparisons and seek the cheapest forms of transport, which may hinder the industry’s ability to raise prices. Even among high-income travellers, value for money will remain important in the future. While people may be willing to spend more on travel, they will make sure it is money well spent.