Bangkok tops Paris, London as world's most-visited city
Thailand's capital, Bangkok. /VCG Photo

Thailand's capital, Bangkok. /VCG Photo

Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, edged out Paris and London as the world's most popular city to visit, according to a survey released on Wednesday – good news for Thailand after worries over a drop in foreign arrivals.

Bangkok was named the most-visited city for the fourth consecutive year, with about 22.8 million visitors reported in the annual rankings by MasterCard Inc. Paris and London were ranked second and third, each with about 19.1 million arrivals, trailed by Dubai with 15.9 million.

Other Southeast Asian cities, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were fourth and fifth in the rankings, based on third-party research, proprietary analysis and public data across 200 destination cities. New York, Istanbul, Tokyo and Antalya, Turkey, rounded out the top 10. The number of international visitors across the 200 cities grew by 76 percent in the last 10 years.

Despite Bangkok's longtime reign atop the list, the Thai tourism industry has faced headwinds, with arrivals dropping 1.03 percent year-on-year in May before recovering to grow 0.89 percent in June from a year earlier. Tourism accounts for about 12 percent of Thailand's economy.

In August, the government extended a waiver of a 2,000 baht (65 U.S. dollars) fee for visa-on-arrivals for tourists from 18 countries including those from China and India.

A growing middle class and increasing wealth in populations and the rise of low-cost airlines will make travel more accessible, Minor Hotels Chief Executive, Dilip Rajakrier said.

"Given only less than 10 percent of the China's total population having passports today. The potential of the Chinese market will never fade," he said.

Source(s): Reuters