Asia’s big four fuel travel spend

SINGAPORE, 23 July  2019: Overnight visitors from mainland China, Republic of Korea, Japan and Taiwan now account for 18.5% of global travel expenditure in the world’s top 200 cities, up from just 11% a decade ago.

This is according to Mastercard’s new breakout report, Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI): Origins, which ranks where the most international travellers to the world’s 200 most popular tourist cities and regional centres are from.

Business and leisure travellers from the top 10 Origin markets comprise nearly half (49.1%) of all overnight international visitor arrivals to the 200 destinations and 48.4% of their total expenditure, demonstrating the potential of the insights to help shape decision-making for governments, merchants and the global travel industry which contributed a record USD8.8 trillion and 319 million jobs in 2018[1].

The top 10 Origin markets are: 

  1. USA
  2. Mainland China*
  3. Germany
  4. United Kingdom
  5. France
  6. Republic of Korea
  7. Japan
  8. Canada
  9. Russian Federation
  10. Taiwan

“What’s most fascinating for us from an Asia Pacific perspective is the fact that, not only has this region’s spend contribution to global travel expenditure nearly doubled in the last decade, but we’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of percentages of the populations that are travelling overseas,” said Mastercard senior vice president, data & services, Asia Pacific Rupert Naylor.

“This is particularly significant in mainland China, India and Indonesia – three of the most populated places on Earth – where only 1, 0.5 and 1.7 overnight international trips were made per 100 residents to the 200 destinations in 2018, demonstrating the vast and still emerging potential of tourism and travel from these markets. This represents significant opportunities for local governments and businesses to leverage these insights to better plan and promote their travel, tourism and retail offerings,”

The figures contrast sharply with Australia where 42.7 overnight international trips per 100 residents were made to the 200 cities in 2018.

Other encouraging findings that illustrate the region’s potential economic growth from travel and tourism include:

  • Asia Pacific markets comprised 40% of the top 20 Origins markets in the index with Australia coming in 11th, India 12th, Indonesia 19th and Malaysia 20th.  
  • Residents of the Republic of Korea and Taiwan are travelling overseas more than ever – breaking into and recording the biggest jumps in the top 10, moving up six and four spots respectively since 2009
  • While Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, ranks 19th on the Origins index (with a 4.6% CAGR), it’s travellers rank 7th in terms of travel expenditure growth over the past decade (9.7%), demonstrating their increasing and outsized purchasing power
  • Travellers from Asia are still largely choosing to visit destinations within the region which bodes well for intra-Asia growth. Meanwhile, the United States remains the #3 most visited destination for business and leisure travellers from mainland China, and the #1 most visited by residents of Japan and Australia (when adding up the sum of visitors to all GDCI cities within each market)

 [1] World Travel & Tourism Council

* Mainland China Origin figures do not count travel numbers and expenditure in Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR.


The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI) ranks 200 cities based on a proprietary analysis of publicly reported information from third-party sources including the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), OAG, International Air Transport Association (IATA), UNWTO, UN, IMF, Dubai DTCM, and national tourism boards. For the Origins breakout report, the analysis examined the total number of international overnight visitor arrivals in 2018, across all modes of travel, as well as cross-border spending by these same visitors across the 200 destination cities.

The top destinations for Origins were obtained by adding together all the overnight visits of Origin market residents to each city covered by the overall Mastercard GDCI. Origins is a new breakout report of the broader GDCI which will be released later in 2019.