Mastercard has just published the latest iteration of their Global Destination Cities index.

The report reveals a wealth of information about international travel and the contributions that travellers make to international hubs around the world.

Perhaps the most interesting dataset provided by Mastercard shows what tourists to key cities actually contribute financially. The study reveals the top global destinations by visitor expenditure per city resident; in essence it shows just how much visitors contribute to the local economy in comparison to locals.

Of these top destinations Dubai is far and away the winner. The research suggests that visitors spend an average of $4,668. It is important to mention here if that number sounds fantastical that there are a number of factors that can affect this figure.

Firstly, one should remember that many visitors to Dubai make the most of the opportunities that present themselves and stay in one of Dubai’s enviable collection of world-class hotels. This, of course, inflates the sum of money that many people spend the UAE.

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Furthermore it should be remembered that Dubai has a relatively small resident population; in the Emirates as a whole expats and visitors outnumber locals by 8 to 1. As a result this metric will naturally be rather higher than for destination cities more densely populated with locals. However Dubai is far from the only city to benefit handsomely from overnight visitors. Second in the rankings comes Barcelona (spend = $2,793), closely followed by both London and Singapore.

This data really helps to underline the money that international travel can bring into major worldwide hubs, leaving a lasting positive impression on the local economy.

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It is also interesting to note which cities are growing fastest in terms of overnight visitors. Here Colombo takes the crown. This sprawling metropolis in Sri Lanka has long held an important strategic position along the East-West trade routes.

Following closely behind in terms of growth in Chengdu in Southwest China, with Abu Dhabi coming in third.

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Once again we see just how the UAE is becoming a critical international air travel hub, not just growing in visitor numbers but also drawing in great wealth from the expats and travellers who pass through.

However while these cities may be the fastest growing, they aren’t the largest. As it turns out it is London which comes in top, with an astonishing 18.82 million international visitors expected this year. This is only slightly ahead of the runner-up, Bangkok, with 18.24m visitors. Paris, long one of the most visited cities in the world clocks in at number three.



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