Singapore beats Bangkok in Asian tourist spending

While Bangkok is still the most-visited destination in Asia Pacific, Singapore continues to lead when it comes to Asian visitor spending.

This is revealed in the Mastercard Asia Pacific Destinations Index 2017, launched at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in the Thai capital.

Spurred by Asia Pacific’s burgeoning middle class, overall tourism expenditure in the region jumped from US$141.5 billion in 2009 to $244.9 billion last year, an 8.2 per cent CAGR, the index shows. Moreover, Asia Pacific’s top 20 source markets contributed $201.5 billion to the region’s tourism revenues last year.

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Tourists from Northeast Asia helped boost these earnings. Key findings show China (17.7 per cent) and South Korea (8.8 per cent) as the largest contributors to tourism expenditure in Asia Pacific. These two markets were also top source markets for Singapore (China first), Bangkok (China) and Tokyo (Korea first, China second), the region’s leading destinations by visitor expenditure.

The top 10 Asia Pacific destinations ranked by expenditure:

  1. Singapore, US$15.4 billion
  2. Bangkok, $12.7 billion
  3. Tokyo, $11.1 billion
  4. Taipei, $9.9 billion
  5. Seoul, $9.4 billion
  6. Bali, $8.7 billion
  7. Phuket, $8.3 billion
  8. Kuala Lumpur, $7.3 billion
  9. Sydney, $6.8 billion
  10. Hong Kong, $6.6 billion

Singapore has had an 18 per cent leap in visitor spend over the past two years. One of only five destinations of the top 20 by total expenditure to breach the US$200 a day threshold, Singapore attracted the highest-spending visitors at $254 a day, followed by Beijing ($242), Shanghai ($234), Hong Kong ($211) and Taipei ($208).

Tourism in Asia Pacific was fuelled last year by increasing consumer wealth in the region’s emerging markets, says the index. It is the world’s fastest-growing region for international tourism by GDP contribution, with tourism making up 8.5 per cent of Asia Pacific’s GDP and 8.7 per cent of total employment last year.


Half of the top 20 most-visited destinations in Asia Pacific saw more than 10 per cent growth in international overnight arrivals from 2015 to 2016. Destinations benefitting most from this growth include Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian markets – Seoul (32.7 per cent), Osaka (23.8 per cent), Bali (22.5 per cent), Tokyo (22.2 per cent), Hokkaido (21.9 per cent), Chiba (21.5 per cent) and Pattaya (20.6 per cent).

The index is an offshoot of Mastercard’s annual Global Destination Cities Index, which last year showed that five of the 10 most-visited cities in the world were in Asia Pacific.

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