How Asia is overtaking the international tourism scene

Are you surprised by the list of Asian cities with the most international tourist arrivals? Source: Shutterstock.

EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA are taking a backseat as Asian cities have dominated the list of top international tourist arrivals in 2017.

According to data and analytics company GlobalData, a whopping total of eight Asian cities have managed to edge out popular cities in Europe and North America.

As per the previous two years, Bangkok is the top international tourist destination globally, with 20.8 million international visitors in 2017.

Thailand’s impressive tourism numbers were largely due to tourism-friendly visa policies, strong promotional efforts, and low-cost connectivity.

In fact, Thailand is now coming close to its tourism capacity and its tourism ministry is looking to promote less-traveled spots to tackle congestion in popular destinations (Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai) as well.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok, Thailand. Source: Shutterstock.

Singapore is the third most preferred destination for international tourists, with 17.42 million visitors in 2017.

Singapore is known as a place of extreme cleanliness and has a low crime rate, with harsh penalties for anyone violating laws, which explains why tourists love the island.

Not too long ago, it was voted the most livable location in Asia-Pacific for expats and the best place in the world to be an expat.

Safest country

Singapore’s low crime rate has earned it the title of world’s safest country. Source: Shutterstock

Tokyo, Dubai, and Hong Kong came in at fourth, fifth, and sixth with 16.4 million, 15.8 million, and 14.03 million respectively.

Tokyo remains a fast favorite for international tourists despite its high cost of living thanks to its equal parts perplexing and alluring. The country’s tourism has also been given a major boost since Tokyo won its bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

Dubai, on the other hand, recently came in at number six worldwide for the most attractive cities in the world for expats. It’s common knowledge that Dubai is an extremely international city as over 80 percent of its population if formed by expats.

And for years, Hong Kong has retained its status as one of the most visited cities by international travelers in spite of strained relations with mainland China.

Hong Kong skyline view from Victoria Peak. Source: Shutterstock

Asian cities such as Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, and Shenzhen complete the list of top international tourists arrivals in 2017 at 13.07 million, 12.1 million, and 12.07 million respectively.

Asian tourists have regularly ranked Seoul, the capital of South Korea, as their favorite world city. Having quite literally risen from the ashes, becoming a strong a prosperous nation, Seoul is now quickly earning the reputation as the global capital of all things hip and happening.

In 2016, over 12.29 million international tourists visited bustling Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, making it the 10th most visited city in the world. It was also listed among the 10 most popular destinations to visit in Asia-Pacific for young Chinese travelers who are looking to spend more.

As on of the largest manufacturing hubs in the world and the wealthiest city in China, Shenzhen has lots to offer international tourists. It’s rich in history, food, art, culture, and dozens of theme parks promising endless adventure.

Top 10 list of international tourist arrivals in 2017.

Top 10 list of international tourist arrivals in 2017. Source: GlobalData.

Travel and tourism sector contribution to Asian cities’ economy and employment has witnessed significant growth during the last decade.

GlobalData expects Asian cities to continue to dominate the top 10 ranking list in terms of international destinations, primarily due to various initiatives such as implementation of single visa by the respective governments of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states, the advent of low cost carriers and enhancement of transportation by developing highways and railways in Asia.