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London has been rated as the world’s most popular travel destination ahead of Bangkok, Paris, Dubai and Istanbul.
The UK capital will attract 18.82 million international overnight visitors who will spend a total of £13.3 billion in 2015, new research shows.
The annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index puts London in top place for the fifth time in seven years, while New York drops out of the top five with 12.27 million visitors.
The top ten also includes Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Hong Kong with 8.66 million arrivals.
The index ranks the 132 most visited cities around the world. International travellers will make 382.9 million visits by air to the top cities, collectively spending £236 billion.
The number of people travelling overseas – and their cross-border spending – has risen faster than global GDP since 2009, the study found. This comes despite the weak and uneven global economic recovery in the aftermath of the 2008 global economic crisis.
Istanbul saw the largest rise in visitor numbers among the top 20 cities – up 11.4% since last year to 12.56 million.
The report predicts a 6% rise in international overnight visitors to London in 2015 and a 2.3% increase in spending, compared to last year.
This underlines London’s dominance as a global hub for international business and tourism and a gateway to the rest of the country, which is demonstrated by the hosting of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Increased airport capacity is vital for stimulating such growth that can boost cities’ local economies, jobs and business opportunities, according to the report.
MasterCard president of international markets, Ann Cairns, said: “This year’s study helps us understand just how interconnected the world’s cities are and the significant role they play in connecting and empowering greater numbers of people than ever before.”
London mayor, Boris Johnson, said: “I’m delighted that London has proudly held on to this coveted title, as we celebrate another triumphant and record-breaking year for tourism in the city.
“With its unrivalled mix of history, culture, culinary gems and cutting-edge creativity, I’m confident that these accolades will keep coming as the capital continues to surprise and excite visitors from all over the world.”
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