Bangkok tops Paris, London as world's most-visited city

POPULAR: Bangkok, Thailand.
POPULAR: Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand's capital, Bangkok, has edged out Paris and London as the world's most popular city to visit, in a survey released this week by MasterCard.

Bangkok was named the most-visited city for the fourth consecutive year, with about 22.8 million visitors.

Paris and London were ranked second and third, each with about 19.1 million arrivals, trailed by Dubai with 15.9 million.

Other South-East Asian cities Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were fifth and sixth in the rankings, based on third-party research, proprietary analysis and public data across 200 destination cities.

New York, Istanbul, Tokyo and Antalya, Turkey, rounded out the top 10.

The number of international visitors across the 200 cities grew by 76 per cent in the past 10 years.

Despite Bangkok's longtime reign atop the list, the Thai tourism industry has faced headwinds, with arrivals dropping 1.03 per cent year-on-year in May before recovering to grow 0.89 per cent in June from a year earlier.

Tourism accounts for about 12 per cent of Thailand's economy.

However, weaker Chinese economic growth and a boat accident last year led to a drop-off in Chinese arrivals in Thailand in the first half of this year.

The downturn in the number of visitors from China was partially offset by Indian arrivals.

Thailand expects to welcome 2 million Indian tourists in 2019, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, said, adding this was one year earlier than its target.

In August, the government extended a waiver of a 2000 baht ($65) fee for visa-on-arrivals for tourists from 18 countries including those from China and India.