Four Asia Pacific markets account for nearly 20 percent of global travel expenditure

July 22, 2019 | Singapore | By Barkha Patel

“Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index: Origins” reveals that mainland China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan are now among the top 10 travel origin markets worldwide by number of travelers

Overnight visitors from mainland China, Republic of Korea, Japan and Taiwan now account for 18.5 percent of global travel expenditure in the world’s top 200 cities, up from just 11 percent a decade ago. This is according to Mastercard’s new breakout report, Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI): Origins, which ranks where the most international travelers to the world’s 200 most popular tourism cities and regional centers are from.

Business and leisure travelers from the top 10 Origin markets comprise nearly half (49.1%) of all overnight international visitor arrivals to the 200 destinations and 48.4% of their total expenditure, demonstrating the potential of the insights to help shape decision-making for governments, merchants and the global travel industry which contributed a record US$8.8 trillion and 319 million jobs in 2018[1].

The top 10 Origin markets are:

1. USA
2. Mainland China*
3. Germany
4. United Kingdom
5. France
6. Republic of Korea
7. Japan
8. Canada
9. Russian Federation
10. Taiwan

“What’s most fascinating for us from an Asia Pacific perspective is the fact that, not only has this region’s spend contribution to global travel expenditure nearly doubled in the last decade, but we’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of percentages of the populations that are traveling overseas. This is particularly significant in mainland China, India and Indonesia - three of the most populated places on Earth – where only 1, 0.5 and 1.7 overnight international trips were made per 100 residents to the 200 destinations in 2018, demonstrating the vast and still emerging potential of tourism and travel from these markets. This represents significant opportunities for local governments and businesses to leverage these insights to better plan and promote their travel, tourism and retail offerings,” said Rupert Naylor, Senior Vice President, Data & Services, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.

The figures contrast sharply with Australia where 42.7 overnight international trips per 100 residents were made to the 200 cities in 2018.

Unlocking Asia’s nascent travel industry
Other encouraging findings that illustrate the region’s potential economic growth from travel and tourism include:

    • Asia Pacific markets comprised 40% of the top 20 Origins markets in the index with Australia coming in 11th, India 12th, Indonesia 19th and Malaysia 20
    • Residents of the Republic of Korea and Taiwan are traveling overseas more than ever – breaking into and recording the biggest jumps in the top 10, moving up six and four spots respectively since 2009
    • While Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, ranks 19th on the Origins index (with a 4.6% CAGR), it’s travelers rank 7th in terms of travel expenditure growth over the past decade (9.7%), demonstrating their increasing and outsized purchasing power
    • Travelers from Asia are still largely choosing to visit destinations within the region which bodes well for intra-Asia growth. Meanwhile, the United States remains the #3 most visited destination for business and leisure travelers from mainland China, and the #1 most visited by residents of Japan and Australia (when adding up the sum of visitors to all GDCI cities within each market)

The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI) ranks 200 cities based on proprietary analysis of publicly reported information from third-party sources including the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), OAG, International Air Transport Association (IATA), UNWTO, UN, IMF, Dubai DTCM, and national tourism boards. For the Origins breakout report, the analysis examined the total number of international overnight visitor arrivals in 2018, across all modes of travel, as well as cross-border spending by these same visitors across the 200 destination cities.

The top destinations for Origins were obtained by adding together all the overnight visits of Origin market residents to each city covered by the overall Mastercard GDCI. Origins is a new breakout report of the broader GDCI which will be released later in 2019.

[1] World Travel & Tourism Council

* Mainland China Origin figures do not count travel numbers and expenditure in Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR.

Appendix I: Top 20 Origins

This table shows the top 20 Origin markets and the top three destination markets that they visit (based on the sum total of overnight visitors to all GDCI cities within each market). Origin rankings are based on each Origin’s contribution to the total number of overnight international arrivals to all 200 GDCI cities. Each Origin’s percentage contribution to travel expenditure in the 200 GDCI cities is also provided. Asia Pacific markets are in bold.

2009 RANK 2018 RANK ORIGIN Contribution to total overnight international  arrivals (2018)* Contribution to global* travel expenditure (2018) #1 DESTINATION #2 DESTINATION #3 DESTINATION
1 1 USA 9.9% 9.2% Mexico Canada Italy
7 2 Mainland China 9.0% 9.6% Thailand Japan USA
2 3 Germany 6.4% 6.3% Italy Spain Austria
3 4 United Kingdom 5.8% 6.4% Spain USA India
4 5 France 3.7% 3.1% Spain USA UK
12 6 Republic of Korea 3.4% 3.3% Japan Mainland China Vietnam
5 7 Japan 3.1% 3.5% USA Mainland China Taiwan
6 8 Canada 2.9% 2.7% USA Mexico India
11 9 Russian Federation 2.5% 2.1% Turkey Thailand Tunisia
14 10 Taiwan 2.3% 2.2% Japan Republic of Korea Thailand
9 11 Australia 2.3% 2.6% USA Indonesia Thailand
15 12 India 2.0% 2.8% UAE Thailand Saudi Arabia
8 13 Italy 1.9% 1.7% Spain USA France
10 14 Spain 1.8% 1.3% France UK Italy
13 15 Netherlands 1.4% 1.3% Spain Italy UK
18 16 Argentina 1.4% 1.1% Brazil Chile Uruguay
19 17 Brazil 1.3% 1.4% USA Italy Argentina
22 18 Saudi Arabia 1.2% 1.5% UAE Egypt Turkey
16 19 Indonesia 1.2% 1.5% Singapore Malaysia Saudi Arabia
23 20 Malaysia 1.1% 1.3% Mainland China   Thailand Japan

Appendix II: Top 20 Destination Cities by Origin

This table shows the cities that were most visited by travelers from each of the top 20 Origin markets in 2018. Asia Pacific markets are in bold.

1 USA Cancun, Mexico Toronto, Canada London, UK
2 Mainland China Bangkok, Thailand Seoul, Republic of Korea Tokyo, Japan
3 Germany Palma de Mallorca, Spain Bolzano, Italy Tiroler Unterland, Austria
4 United Kingdom Palma de Mallorca, Spain Paris, France Dublin, Ireland
5 France London, England Marrakech, Morocco Barcelona, Spain
6 Republic of Korea Osaka, Japan Hokkaido, Japan Tokyo, Japan
7 Japan Taipei, Taiwan Seoul, Republic of Korea Bangkok, Thailand
8 Canada Washington D.C., USA Las Vegas, USA New York, USA
9 Russian Federation Antalya, Turkey Pattaya, Thailand Phuket, Thailand
10 Taiwan Tokyo, Japan Hokkaido, Japan Okinawa, Japan
11 Australia Bali, Indonesia Singapore New York, USA
12 India Dubai, UAE Singapore Makkah, Saudi Arabia
13 Italy Paris, France London, UK Barcelona, Spain
14 Spain Paris, France London, UK Lisbon, Portugal
15 Netherlands London, UK Paris, France Tiroler Unterland, Austria
16 Argentina Porto Alegre, Brazil Montevideo, Uruguay Valparaiso, Chile
17 Brazil New York, USA Orlando, USA Miami, USA
18 Saudi Arabia Bahrain, Kingdom of Bahrain Dubai, UAE Istanbul, Turkey
19 Indonesia Singapore Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Makkah, Saudi Arabia
20 Malaysia Singapore Bangkok, Thailand Chennai, India


Barkha Patel, Vice President, Communications, International Markets (IMK), Mastercard

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