Which Middle Eastern city now outranks New York for travel hotspots?

Published July 9th, 2014 - 08:52 GMT

Dubai continues to climb the ranks in the world’s top 10 destinations and recently became the fifth most favorite hotspot for travelers, ahead of New York and other popular cities in Europe, a new MasterCard study revealed on Wednesday.

Dubai is the only city in the Middle East and Africa region to make it to the top five list. London is now the number one destination city by international visitor arrivals, followed by Bangkok, which occupied last year’s top spot, Paris and Singapore.

According to MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, which tracks the growth of international travelers from more than 100 cities across the globe, 12 million international visitors will come to Dubai this year, an increase of 7.5 per cent from 2013.

The increase in visitor numbers has helped propelled Dubai to the fifth spot, outrunning close rivals like New York and Istanbul, both of which ranked higher than Dubai last year.

Nearly 10 million international visitors came to Dubai last year, up from 8.8 million in 2012.

Raghu Malhotra, MasterCard division president for Middle East and North Africa, said Dubai’s rapid and sustained climb in the index reflects the city’s growing reputation as an ideal destination for business and leisure.

“Its world-class infrastructure, strategic global location, investment-friendly economy and cosmopolitan nature will continue to play a significant role in driving visitor growth,” said Malhotra in a statement.

Dubai also emerged as the number one city in terms of international overnight visitors. It’s also the top city that generates more international overnight visitor expenditure per resident than any other city ($3,863).

In terms of international connectivity, Dubai is ranked as the fourth air hub in the world, representing a growth of 44.6 per cent in the last five years. The emirate is the only city from the Middle East and Africa to be on the top ten air hubs list.

Dr Yuwah Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor to MasterCard, said they continue to see strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal. “Since 2009, cross-border air travel and associated spending has been growing faster than real world GDP [gross domestic product],” he said.

“This continued growth of travel across borders reflects a continued interest and desire for new cultural experience from all geographies, including consumers from emerging markets who now have the financial ability to pursue these opportunities.”


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