Which city is the most popular international tourist destination? Surprisingly, it’s not Paris, London or New York.
According to 2012 data from Euromonitor International, the number one tourist destination in the world was Hong Kong with 23.7 million visitors.
Singapore and Bangkok were ranked numbers 2 and 3 respectively, showing just how much Asian tourism has grown in recent years. London, at number 4, was the top ranked non-Asian city with 15.5 million international visitors and New York City, at number 8, was the most visited city in the Americas with 11.6 million tourists.
When looking at countries as a whole, the map at the top of the page is revealing. At first glance it shows just how few African countries made the list. Another interesting finding is that while London is the 4th most visited city, it’s the only UK city to make the list. Moreover, while many European countries have top 100 cities (Switzerland being a notable exception) none has more than Italy’s 4.
But that’s nothing compared to the big 3 who dominate the list:
- India has 6 cities on the list: Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Kolkata.
- The United States has 8: New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Honolulu, Washington D.C.
- And, China has whopping 9 cities: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Zhuhai, Suzhou, Guilin, Nanjing.
Plus, this doesn’t include Hong Kong (#1) and Macau (#5), which ae both Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China.
Below are the complete rankings. Please note if you click on a city you’ll be taken to HotelsCombined where you can compare the cost of local hotels:
|1||Hong Kong||Hong Kong||23.7|
|8||New York City||USA||11.6|
|33||Ho Chi Minh City||Vietnam||3.9|
|65||Punta Cana||Dominican Republic||2.4|
|73||East Province||Saudi Arabia||2.2|
|90||Rio de Janeiro||Brazil||1.8|
The data all comes from this Euromonitor International report. I’d strongly encourage you to read it if you’re curious about their methodology and other interesting findings.
If you’d like to learn about the growth of international tourism, have a look at the following books:
- Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism
- Rick Steves Travel as a Political Act
- 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, the second edition: Completely Revised and Updated with Over 200 New Entries
Did your favourite city not make the list? Let us know in the comments below:
How about Jerusalem?
The results are biased. HK does get a massive flow of tourist but this can be explained by the fact that HK airport is a massive hub (works the same for Singapore airport). It’s not a touristic destination in itself, providing the tourist facilities out of HK international airport (very few) and the time people actually spend in hk. It’s more a stop over than a touristic destination. Then, you have the flow of Chinese tourists that cross the border on week ends to go shopping in HK. sqame situation, they benefit to the economy but can they actually be counted as part of the touristic industry ?
So yes, in term of people you can rank it that way but the figures do not say what kind of flows arrive to HK.
Warren Lauzon says
No, it is not based on inbound flights. It is based on the fact that thousands of mainlanders walk across the border every day to buy non-contaminated baby formula.
As Sa said concerning Hong Kong, this list measures arrivals of tourists, I assume, at the cities’ international airports (see report). This does not show how long tourists stay in these cities, if at all. Many of the cities are close to interesting historic and scenic areas.
Hong Kong first ? Is it a joke ? There’s nithing to see there ! Nothing, comparing to Paris, London, NYC or Beijing…
Warren Lauzon says
It counts mainland tourists, who can walk across the border. But as far as “nothing to see” – have you ever actually been there?
Yes, I’ve been there several times. Besides shopping and a few sites, what can you see there. Paris, for example, is much much more worth it.
Warren Lauzon says
Funny.. I had the same impression of Paris. Once you see the Eiffel tower and a few other sites, there is not much “there” there except for overpriced restaurants and snooty bakeries 😀
In Poland Krakow gets much more turists than Warsaw
Rental Italy says
Rome on 12th place, lower than Shenzhen and Macau… Wuite surprising results.
that list seems like a load of nonsense
Raj Kishor Kannoujea says
Nice job! but need to more.
Helmut Kremers says
Munich had 14.1 million visitors last year – and that wasn’t even the best, so how come it isn’t on the list?!
Rahul gupta says
india brautiful country with lots of diversity and more than 22+ official language having wonders of the world filled with colors and more than 2000+ local language and world second largest English speaking nation having desert ,hills,mountain,snow fall ,largest green forest,.i think it is a pack of whole European + africa.
it has lots of beautiful beaches in then having world almost every religion ,here you get temple,mosque ,churchs,and many more
SIDDHANT GARG says
apart from India more places should you visit
Bhupinder Singh says
If India is such a wonderful place, why does everyone want to leave?
very nice photos~!
Kanika Bakshi says
India is a beautiful country with lots and different culture. you will be able to learn more about its culture, traditions and languages with different food recipes.
Jonathan Ridgway says
This is list is sooo inaccurate. Business insider has a more correct list.
Kaushal Soni says
Loved it, Insightful List!
Patricia Kavanagh says
Echo sentiments above. HK is a transport hub. Much more complex than first seems. India already has large population so will skew figures for there.
Chiku Cab says
Hey, nice post and very informative, Thanks for sharing this information.
Here is an interesting fact about the list. Turkish city Edirne has only 200K population and not so much touristic to get in this list on 62th place in the world and 4th in Turkey. Why is it here? Because Edirne covers the western border of Turkey between Bulgaria and Greece and so the EU. It is not just touristic numbers, it is also industrial transportation and transit passages all over to Turkey. This list is not accurate.
Aman Kumar says
now its very old
Kirti Pathak says
You have list top 100 list but I think you can add some more to it.
Big Cab varanasi says
Very informative post…
Thanks for sharing