Published June 7, 2011
The latest index of Global Destination Cities shows that Dubai not only leads the charge in terms of tourist traffic and visitor spending, but she also beats other popular tourist hubs such as New York, Rome, Seoul and Amsterdam in terms of international visitor arrivals.
It is the ninth most highly ranked destination city in the world and is ranked third globally in terms of growth in visitor spending, outstripping key cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Melbourne, Seoul and Bangkok.
The latest index of Global Destination Cities ranks 132 cities by total international tourist arrivals and cross-border visitor expenditures. It also gives tourist and passenger growth forecasts for 2011.
International travel is considered a powerful trend that impacts global commerce and underpins the growth of key industries such as transportation, retail and hospitality, and professional services like marketing and advertising.
“The leading cities of the worldÂ ‘the global cities’ are the very nodal hubs that knit the global economy together. Without these global cities, there would be no global economy,” says Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic adviser for MasterCard Worldwide.
In an interview with Gulf News, Hedrick-Wong said the data used in the research include, among others, the airlines’ announced flight capacity for 2011. “And since the airlines’ objective is to always increase their load factor, we used the historic average of the load factor, to be on the conservative side,” he says.
Dubai is expected to receive 7.9 million international visitors in 2011, the highest in the Middle East and African region. Second in rank is Cairo, with 3.7 million, followed by Johannesburg (3 million), Tel Aviv (2.7 million), Casablanca (2.5 million) and Abu Dhabi (2 million).
Dubai also leads in terms of visitor expenditure, expected to reach US$7.8 billion in 2011. Beirut is second (US$6.5 billion), followed by Tel Aviv (US$3.8 billion), Cairo (US$3.7 billion), Johannesburg (US3.3 billion), Casablanca (US$2.3 billion) and Abu Dhabi (US$2 billion).
Many of Dubai’s visitors come from London, Kuwait, Beijing, Frankfurt and Paris. Travellers from London are expected to spend US$876 million in 2011, while those from Kuwait are forecast to log US$373 million in expenditures.
It is also interesting to note that Beijing now ranks third in spending.
For Abu Dhabi, the highest number of tourists come from London, Frankfurt and Jeddah. More tourists from Paris, Manchester and Chicago are also visiting this commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The UAE’s future economic growth is likely to become more sustainable, according to Hedrick-Wong, global economic adviser for MasterCard Worldwide. He says lingering concerns over Dubai’s debt repayment schedule are not a risk that could hit recovery.
“It’s a factor of a drag on growth because, for many years to come, a portion of the capital resource of the region will be spent on paying down the debt as opposed to investing. So the trade-off is that we will have a lower rate of investment, but it’s not a risk factor,” Wong tells Gulf News. He also notes that the recent financial crisis has turned out to be a good opportunity for the UAE, or the region as a whole, to reset its growth pattern. “The crisis actually served a good purpose for the region. We become more realistic. We now look at things in a more balanced way.”
MasterCard’s latest index ranks London as the number one destination city by visitor numbers with 20.1 million inbound tourist traffic expected in 2011, ahead of Paris in second place with 18.1 million.
Eight Asia-Pacific cities made it to the top 20, with Bangkok in the third spot. The only North American city in the list, New York, could welcome 7.6 million inbound tourists, the 12th on list.