Dubai has risen in a new list of the world's top destinations for international travellers and is expected to welcome nearly 12 million visitors this year.
London topped the annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for the third time in four years but Dubai rose two places to fifth globally, behind Bangkok, Paris and Singapore.
Visitor figures for the emirate this year represent an increase of 7.5 percent on 2013. This has helped boost the position of Dubai ahead of New York and Istanbul – both of which ranked higher than Dubai last year.
MasterCard added that Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the global top 10, and is on track to overtake Paris and Singapore within five years.
The index comes as tourism chiefs in Dubai aim to make the emirate the most visited city in the world by 2020, attracting 20 million annual visitors.
“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 as well as the city that generates more international overnight visitor expenditure per resident than any other city ($3,863).
Now in its fourth year, the index provides a ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world.
According to the study, London is projected to receive 18.7 million international visitors in 2014, followed by Bangkok (16.42 million), Paris (15.57 million), Singapore (12.47 million) and Dubai (11.95 million)
“The index points to a continued strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal travel,” said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, MasterCard.
The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2014.
Public data are used in deriving the international visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.