What makes a certain place such a popular vacation destination? In 2012, the No. 1 travel spot was Hong Kong -- more people visited there than any other city in the world, a total of 23.7 million arrivals that year, according to just-released data from Euromonitor. New York City, the top American destination, saw less than half that -- just 11.6 million arrivals in 2012.
The second- and third-ranked cities on this list were also Asian -- Singapore, with 21.3 million arrivals, and Bangkok, Thailand, with 15.8 million arrivals. In fact, six of the top 10 cities were in Asia.
What do these cities have in common? They’re relatively close to China.
Here’s a map of the top 10 tourist destinations in 2012. The six Asian cities that are on this list overlap -- zoom in to that region on the map to get a clearer picture. Click on any bubble for more info:
(For a more comprehensive map of the top 100 destinations, scroll to the bottom.)
Arrivals from China to Hong Kong grew by 11.1 percent in 2012 and accounted for a 63.5 percent share of all inbound visitors, according to the Euromonitor report. For Singapore, China is the third-largest source market. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand increased by 62 percent from 2011 to 2012.
As as more Chinese turn to traveling, which is where the trend seems to be heading, the tourism industries in Asian cities will benefit. In 2012, China was the country with the fourth-highest international departures. By 2017, China will see more international departures than any other country.
However, between pollution fears, a stronger yuan and the conflict with Japan, fewer people visited China in 2012.
China isn’t the only country that will likely see a boom in outbound travelers. Russia will also drive future growth, according to the Euromonitor report.
In 2012, the top five countries in terms of international departures were Germany, U.S., U.K, China and Russia, in that order. By 2017, China will lead, with Germany in second place and Russia in third.
Thailand, which is well positioned to receive visitors from both China and Russia, will likely benefit the most. Bangkok is expected to remain the third-most-visited city in the world, while other Thai cities, like Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to rise in the rankings.
In the West, most destinations in the U.S. and Europe, which depend on mature source markets, also saw small increases in visitors, but nothing like the dramatic increases in the East.
Here’s a map with the top 100 visited cities in 2012. Click on any city for more info: