Dubai Ranked Fifth Most Popular Destination in the World: MasterCard Global Destination City Index


Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 9 July, 2014: For the fourth consecutive year, Dubai has been recognized as one of the top destinations for international travelers according to the findings of the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, released today. Dubai has consistently advanced its position since the launch of the Index, ranking ninth in 2011, eighth in 2012, seventh last year and fifth this year.


According to the study, Dubai is expected to receive almost 12 million international visitors in 2014, an increase of 7.5 per cent since 2013. This has helped boost the position of the Emirate ahead of New York and Istanbul – both of which ranked higher than Dubai last year. In fact, the future ranking of the Emirate continues to look very promising. According to the Index, if current growth rates of Dubai, Paris and Singapore continue, Dubai is expected to overtake the other two cities within five years and secure its position as one of the top three global destinations.


“We continue to see strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal travel. Since 2009, cross-border air travel and associated spending has been growing faster than real world GDP,” said Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor to MasterCard.  “This continued growth of travel across borders reflects a continued interest and desire for new cultural experiences from all geographies, including consumers from emerging markets who now have the financial ability to pursue these opportunities.”


Dubai also emerged as the top city in terms of international overnight visitors per resident (12 million in 2014) as well as the city that generates more international overnight visitor expenditure per resident than any other city (US$ 3,863). It was also ranked as the fourth air hub in the world by international connectivity, representing a growth of 44.6 per cent in the last 5 years. Dubai is the only city from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region to on the top ten air hubs list.


“This year’s rankings reflect just how interconnected and global of an economy we live in today,” said Raghu Malhotra, Division President, Middle East and North Africa, MasterCard.  “It’s through the inclusive nature of an increasingly digital world that consumers can maximize all of the opportunities available to them.  As more consumers have access to safe and secure payment regardless of where they are, additional resources will become available to them.”


He continued: “Dubai’s rapid and sustained ascent in the Global Destination Cities Index reflects the Emirate’s growing international stature as a preferred business and leisure destination. Its world-class infrastructure, strategic global location, investment-friendly economy and cosmopolitan nature will continue to play a significant role in driving visitor growth.”

Other notable findings include:

  • The top five origin cities for Dubai are London, Riyadh, Kuwait, Jeddah and Paris.
  • International visitors from outside of the region are becoming more important for Dubai, currently accounting for 62 per cent of total arrivals.
  • In the Middle East and Africa (MEA), Dubai continues to retain its top rank for international overnight visitors. Other top cities in the region include Riyadh (5.6 million), Johannesburg (4.3 million), Abu Dhabi (2.1 million) and Cape Town (1.6 million).

o   At 14.2 per cent, Abu Dhabi continues to register the strongest visitor growth rate in the MEA region. The UAE’s capital also ranked fifth in for international overnight visitor spend.


Now in its fourth year, the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index provides an overview and ranking of the 132 of the most important global cities.


Regional Highlights:


Asia/Pacific: The region is home to half of the top ten destination cities. Bangkok, last year’s number one destination, continued to pace Asia/Pacific despite an 11 percent decline in visitors and slipped to second place this year on account of the political unrest in Thailand.  Singapore was identified as the leading feeder city across the region and took over the top spot for international visitor spending.


Europe: London, Paris and Istanbul continue to represent Europe in the global top ten, as ranked by number of international visitors. This year, 67 per cent of London’s international visitors are from other European cities – a strong indication of Europe’s strengthening economy.  Barcelona and Amsterdam represent the remaining regional leaders, with Amsterdam climbing one place to 12th overall on the global rankings.


Latin America: Lima built on its position as 2013’s fastest growing city in the region, retaining the top spot on the Latin America lineup for the first time.  Punta Cana joins the list of top ten as the number four destination city for visitors this year, displacing Caracas.  Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, all mainstays on the rankings, round out the regional top five.


North America:  The region’s top destinations have been fairly consistent since the creation of the index.  New York continues to pace the group, serving as the sole North American representative on the global top ten list.  Also unchanged from 2013 are Los Angeles, Miami, Toronto and San Francisco’s position in the regional top five.  Chicago is forecast to be the fastest growing city in North America, both in terms of visitors and international spend this year.


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