What you need to know about city tourism

With 54% of the world’s population living in urban areas, cities have become global economic hubs driving growth and innovation. Cities have not only become attractive locations for people to move to and work in, but also destinations- leading to the rise of city tourism.

But what does this growth in city tourism really mean?

Here are 10 highlights from our latest report to help answer that question:

1. Cities account for 45% of global international travel. With over half a billion trips taken to cities every year, they have become catalysts of global travel. In fact, travel to cities has grown faster than total international travel demand in the past decade.

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2. Shanghai and Beijing are the two largest cities in the Top 10 ranking in terms of their Travel & Tourism market size followed by Paris, Orlando, New York, Tokyo, Bangkok, Mexico City, Las Vegas and Shenzhen. Of these cities, Bangkok (50.4%), Paris (29.8%) & Mexico City (24.0%) are the biggest contributors to their country’s Travel & Tourism GDP.

3. Emerging and developing markets continue to rise, with ten of the top 20 largest cities by market size in 2017 and the ten fastest growing cities over the past decade, located in emerging and developing countries, including Chongqing, Shanghai, Lagos, Tehran and Mumbai.

4. Cairo, Istanbul, Antalya and Tehran have made a big comeback in 2017, growing 34%, 13%, 9% and 9% respectively. This growth is the result of improved political stability including the removal of sanctions and increased security.

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5. Domestic travel accounts for 73% of global Travel & Tourism expenditure in cities. In fact, Chinese cities have a heavier reliance on domestic than international demand, with the domestic tourism accounting for over 85% of Travel & Tourism GDP in Shanghai and Beijing.

6. The proportion of international vs. domestic travel in cities is expected to rise with the rapid growth of emerging markets. Macau and Dublin currently have the highest reliance on international visitors — accounting for 97% of their tourism GDP; followed by Dubrovnik (92%) and Istanbul (91%).

7. Leisure travel provides 78% of total global tourism expenditure, and unsurprisingly contributions to GDP are higher in leisure-driven cities. The 8 highest ranked destinations in terms of Travel & Tourism’s share of GDP are leisure-driven, and include Cancún (49.6%), Orlando (18.7%) and Antalya (17.6%).

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8. Cancún, Marrakech, Orlando, Las Vegas & Antalya are the top 5 cities with a greater reliance on Travel & Tourism than their respective countries.

9. The top ten cities in terms of employment growth cross all continents, with Abu Dhabi (10.4%), Tehran (6.8%) and Chongqing (6.0%) as leaders over the 2007–2017 period. In contrast, the leaders in terms of absolute number of Travel & Tourism jobs in 2017 are Jakarta, Beijing, Mexico City, Shanghai and Bangkok.

10. Look out for Shanghai, Guangzhou, Bangkok and Chongqing in 2027. Shanghai went from being the 8th largest city in terms of Travel & Tourism GDP in 2007 to become the largest in 2017; a position it is expected to keep until 2027. While Beijing and Paris are forecast to remain the 2nd and 3rd largest destinations, Gunagzhou will take 4th place, followed by Bangkok in 5th position. Chongqing will join the top 15 for the first time, while Miami will be ousted from the top 15.

As you plan your next trip, which city would you like to discover next?

This post was written by Tiffany Misrahi, Policy Director, World Travel & Tourism Council.

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