lebua at State Tower -EDITED

Bangkok is this year’s number one city for travel, according to the third annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index.

While London reached the top spot in 2012, it was edged by the slimmest of margins with only about 25,000 visitors separating the two – a difference of about 1%.

The study looked at the highest international visitor numbers in 2013, with London, Paris, Singapore, and New York rounding out the top five.

A noticeable trend in this year’s report was the dominance of the Asia/Pacific region. Of the 132 cities ranked, 42 are Asian countries. Bangkok is followed by Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, and five of the top 10 in 2013 are in the Greater China region.

Locally, this year Melbourne for the first time joins Sydney among the top ten destinations in the Asia/Pacific region for overnight spending by international visitors, with predictions that up to $5.9 billion will be spent in the Victorian capital by tourists in 2013.

Meanwhile, Sydney’s predicted spend is nearly double that of Melbourne with USD$10.4 billion to be injected into the economy this year, ranking fifth in the Asia/Pacific region and ninth globally.

“The inclusion of both Sydney and Melbourne in the Index shows that Australia holds a strong appeal for international visitors, which is great for our economy and tourism more broadly,” said Andrew Cartwright, MasterCard Australia’s Country Manager.

“We know from recent Tourism Australia data that inbound travel is on the rise, with 6.2 million visitors arriving from key markets for year ending March 2013, an increase of 4.9% relative to the previous year.”

In recent years Melbourne has shown strong growth potential, having ranked eighth in the world in expected growth rates of visitor expenditure in MasterCard Worldwide’s 2011 Index of Global Destination Cities.

“This year’s index reflects the growth that is occurring within the Asia/Pacific region. This increase is further enhanced by the rise and acceptance of electronic payments in Asia, which is enabling more people to participate in the global economy than ever before,” said Cartwright.