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MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities: Cross-Border Travel and Expenditures

By Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Ph.D.

The leading cities of the world are the very nodal hubs that knit the global economy together. Without these global cities, there would be no global economy.

Indeed, as the center of global economic gravity shifts to the dynamic emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Africa, cities there will correspondingly play a bigger role in driving global economic growth and connectivity.

While the international flow of capital and the trade of goods and services have been meticulously measured and documented, the same cannot be said of the human dimension of globalization. International travel is a powerful trend that shapes global commerce and underpins the growth of key industries such as transportation, retail, and hospitality, and professional services like marketing and advertising.

The economic and business impacts of international travel are especially pronounced in cities that are popular destinations of international travelers, and in these destination cities, spending by international visitors contributes significantly to local commerce and business activities, amplifying the dynamism of these urban economies.

While growth rates by visitor arrivals and expenditures are high overall, regardless of whether the destination cities are in the developed or emerging markets, many emerging market destination cities are showing both high visitor arrival and expenditure growth. This kind of growth pattern strongly suggests that destination cities in emerging markets in Asia will continue to grow in importance in the new global economy.