Irresistible cities: World’s 25 top tourism destinations

(CNN) — All over the world, people are making more flights to more places than ever before.

But two Asian cities, according to a new report by market researcher Euromonitor International, are welcoming more visitors than any other destination.

For the seventh year in a row, Hong Kong topped Euromonitor’s annual Top 100 City Destinations survey, welcoming an impressive 26.69 million visitors in 2015, its latest figures.

Despite this, arrivals to Hong Kong were down overall, which Euromonitor attributes to a drop in younger visitors from mainland China.

Hong Kong’s loss was Bangkok’s gain.

In 2015, Thailand’s capital city attracted 18.7 million overseas visitors, rocketing it to the No.2 slot and pushing London down to third place.

Euromonitor’s list is compiled from data from 57 “core” countries, using national statistics and info from airports, hotels and other tourism industry sources.

While the company says that 2015 was another turbulent year globally- with terrorist attacks, geopolitical conflicts, economic uncertainty and health scares including MERS and Zika affecting tourists’ decisions – the top 100 city destinations registered growth of 55% in international arrivals compared to 2014.

This, Euromonitor says, is testament to the resilience of the world’s top global cities as travel destinations.

Japan was one of the year’s biggest success stories.

Thanks to the popularity of the country’s Golden Route, which sees overseas tourists arrive in Tokyo and travel to Kyoto and Osaka via Mount Fuji, Tokyo rose six places to rank 17th, and Osaka and Kyoto leaped 27 and 11 places, respectively.

In Europe, London slipped to third place in the rankings, although visitor numbers – at 18.58 million – were up 7%, boosted in part by England hosting the Rugby World Cup in September 2015.

Milan also performed strongly, with a 17.9% increase in visitors, thanks to the Expo Milan 2015.

Paris was hit by the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan attacks in 2015, although the impact on visitor numbers was minimal. Euromonitor predicts that the 2016 numbers will see a bigger dip.

In the Americas, Rio de Janeiro, in the year sandwiched between its World Cup and Olympics mega-events, dropped out of the 2015 rankings altogether.

Meanwhile, Cancun, Mexico’s top city destination, dropped in the rankings despite a boom in Mexico tourism overall.

Euromonitor attributes the drop to other Mexican destinations being heavily promoted to business and leisure travelers, such as Playa del Carmen.

In the Middle East, 2015 saw strong growth in the number of religious tourists to Mecca -7.18 million international visitors arrived in the city, an increase of 17.2%.

SOURCE: CNN’s Maureen O’Hare


  1. (Top) Hong Kong: Once again, Hong Kong outstrips the competition, attracting 8 million visitors more than its nearest rival. However, with 26.69 million arrivals, year-on-year growth was down 3.9% since 2014.Bangkok
  2. Bangkok, Thailand: Bangkok benefited from Hong Kong’s declining popularity as a destination. It saw a 10% growth in arrivals, to 18.7 million, despite the Erawan Shrine bombing in August 2015.London
  3. London, England: London remains Europe’s biggest draw for international tourist arrivals, welcoming 18.58 million visitors in 2015 — a million more than in 2014.Singapore
  4. Singapore: Singapore welcomed 16.87 million international visitors in 2015, keeping its numbers steady year-on-year.Paris
  5. Paris, France: The City of Light held on to the No. 5 ranking, with 15 million international arrivals.Macau
  6. Macau: The casinos and theme parks that give Macau its nickname “the Las Vegas of the East” drew in 14.3 million visitors in 2015. However, arrivals declined as the Chinese authorities cracked down on corruption and illegal gambling activity.Dubai
  7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai is the Middle East’s leader in arrivals, and its popularity seems to be increasing in step with the city’s rapid expansion. It attracted 14.26 million in 2015, up 8% from 2014.Istanbul
  8. Istanbul, Turkey: Better known globally than Antalya, Istanbul welcomed 12.41 million international visitors in 2015.New York
  9. New York: North America’s top draw was New York, with 12.3 million international tourist arrivals.Kuala Lumpur
  10. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Tenth-ranked Kuala Lumpur saw 12.15 million visitors, up 4.5% from 2014.Shenzhen
  11. Shenzhen, China: In the 1980s it was just a small town in southern China. Today Shenzhen is an economic powerhouse that welcomed 11.42 million international tourist arrivals in 2015.Turkey,Antalya
  12. Antalya, Turkey: Antalya, a Mediterranean resort town in southwest Turkey, saw 10.86 million international arrivals in 2015 — a dip of 5.5% from the year before.Rome
  13. Rome, Italy: Perennial European crowd-pleaser Rome had a good year, with 9.56 million international arrivals.Taipei
  14. Taipei, Taiwan: Taipei’s National Palace Museum is one of the world’s largest. The city itself pulled in 9 million visitors.Seoul
  15. Seoul, South Korea: Seoul welcomed 8.8 million international visitors in 2015. This 6% drop in numbers was due in part to the spread of the MERS virus.Phuket
  16. Phuket, Thailand: It was a good year overall for Thai tourism. Visitor numbers to coastal paradise Phuket increased by 8.7% — up to 8.82 million.TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 12: Aerial view of the Tokyo Tower on September 12, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo was selected as the site of the 2020 Olympics. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
  17. Tokyo: Tokyo saw particularly impressive growth in 2015. The Japanese capital welcomed 8.46 million visitors — an increase of 35.4%.Guangzhao
  18. Guangzhou, China: At 18, the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou had 7.96 million international visitors.Miami
  19. Miami: Miami’s beaches, art scene and Spanish-infused culture — in addition to the attraction of its next door neighbor, Miami Beach — helped lure 7.6 million international tourists.Pattaya
  20. Pattaya, Thailand: The Thai beach resort town of Pattaya bounced back after a dip in numbers in 2014. It welcomed 7.49 million visitors in 2015 — an increase of 16.5%.Mecca
  21. Mecca, Saudi Arabia: Islamic pilgrimage center Mecca pulled in 7.18 million international visitor arrivals, an increase of 17.2% over the previous year.Prague
  22. Prague: Home to the largest castle in the world, Prague welcomed 6.97 million international visitors.Milan
  23. Milan, Italy: Milan had a good year in 2015, welcoming 6.68 million visitors — an increase of 17.9%.Las Vegas
  24. Las Vegas: Sin City attracted 6.77 million visitors in 2015, up 8.7% from 2014.Barcelona
  25. Barcelona comes in at 25, with 6.6 million visitors as measured in 2015



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