Middle East and Asian Cities Lead in International Visitor Growth

With many of the economies in the world getting back on track following the recession, those people in the middle class are once again beginning to travel. This time however, things look different.

The U.S. dollar is stronger now than before and that has led to better power in spending in Japan, Europe and in many developing countries across the globe.

Connectivity through airlines has also expanded. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar are all growing rapidly and have entered North America, which had provided better connections for those who want to travel to the Middle East and beyond into Asia.

New data taken from a 2015 global index of MasterCard suggest that amongst the growing destination cities 9 out of the top 10 are in either Asia or the Middle East. Between 2009 and 2015 the top 10 cities that grew in terms of overnight travelers was led by Colombo, Sri Lanka and followed by Chengdu, China. However, in third was Abu Dhabi and in fifth Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

A great deal of the growth has come from the middle class boom and improved Middle East infrastructure.

The study by MasterCard also showed that Istanbul was becoming stronger as a destination for tourism, while Turkish citizens are traveling to places such as Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul and other Asian destinations.

Travel to and from the Middle East and the Far East is growing but there is much to be done if they want to catch the perennial leaders London, Bangkok and Paris, that are attracting annually 18.8 million, 18.2 million and 16.1 million visitors respectively.

Only two of the growing visitor destinations in the top 10 compiled by MasterCard are in the world’s top 20 of overall destinations. Those two are Taipei and Tokyo, but they attract only 6.5 million and 8.1 million respectively.

However, if the dollar remains strong and the euro can rebound if the problems in Greece are resolved, then the Middle East and Far East might have strong tourism and visitors years ahead of them.

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