MasterCard Index says London is world’s most popular destination

LONDON — MasterCard has unveiled its fourth annual Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI), revealing London as the most popular travel destination in the world.

The British capital reclaimed the most popular spot based on air travel into the city from a whopping 18.69 million international visitors in 2014, besting last year’s most popular destination, Bangkok, by more than two million visitors.

Behind London and Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai rounded off the top five locations across the globe.

GDCI annually ranks cities in terms of the number of total international visitor arrivals as well as cross-border spending by these visitors in the destination cities. In addition, the Index provides visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2014, offering a glimpse at future travel trends.

Key data highlights and travel trends from this year’s Index:

  • Dubai is poised to eclipse Paris and Singapore as a more popular city within five years if it continues to show such healthy growth numbers (it saw an increase of 7.5% and recorded $10.9 billion in visitor spend).
  • Lima, Peru broke through as the first Latin American city to rank in the top 20 most popular destinations in the world and had more than double the visitors (5.11 million) as presumed more popular cities: Mexico City (2.57 million) or Sao Paulo (2.51 million).
  • Istanbul saw the greatest percentage change in visitors from 2013 to 2014 with 17.5% more visitors, while Amsterdam bested Milan for 12th place, pushing the Italian city of fashion to #13.
  • New York was notably the only North American city to crack the top 10 (or even the top 20) list of top destinations worldwide.
  • Within North America, behind New York the top cities remained unchanged – Los Angeles (#2), Miami (#3), Toronto (#4) and San Francisco (#5).
  • New York is seeing a boom of visitors from the East and the South – visitors from Beijing jumped 17.5% and Sao Paulo increased 6% compared to 2013.

The full report can be seen at