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Hong Kong is likely to hold on to its sta­tus as the world's most pop­u­lar city with in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors in 2019, de­spite months of po­lit­i­cal un­rest that led to a sharp drop in tourist num­bers. Mean­while New York City falls out of the top 10, and Delhi joins the ranks for the first time.

The Top 100 City Des­ti­na­tions re­port from global mar­ket re­search com­pany Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional shows Asian des­ti­na­tions dom­i­nat­ing the list, with over 40 en­tries. Bangkok is ex­pected to take sec­ond place, fol­lowed by Macau and Sin­ga­pore.

Lon­don is pre­dicted to round out the top five, although it’s dropped two places amid an un­cer­tain fu­ture as Brexit po­ten­tially leads to tighter visa restrictio­ns for EU na­tion­als.

Glob­ally, in­bound ar­rivals are ex­pected to rise 4.2 per cent in 2019, to 1.5bn trips.

New York City, the most pop­u­lar Amer­i­can des­ti­na­tion with in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers, is ex­pected to sink from eighth spot to num­ber 11, while Mi­ami (29), Los Angeles (33) and Las Ve­gas (38) were the next high­est US cities on the list. Com­pe­ti­tion from Asia and Europe has seen most Amer­i­can cities slip in re­cent years, de­spite pos­i­tive growth in ar­rivals for most.

Grow­ing trade ten­sion with China is “one of the main con­cerns for the travel in­dus­try,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port’s au­thor, Rabia Yas­meen, who added that many US cities are ac­tively at­tempt­ing to tap the lu­cra­tive Chi­nese tourist mar­ket.

Euromon­i­tor’s re­search cov­ers over­seas vis­i­tors, or ‘ar­rivals’, who stay longer than 24 hours and less than one year in over 400 cities around the world. Ar­rivals in­clude peo­ple trav­el­ling for busi­ness, leisure and to visit fam­ily or friends, but ex­cludes those in em­ploy­ment or ed­u­ca­tion abroad as well as mil­i­tary per­son­nel, trans­porta­tion crew, cruise pas­sen­gers and peo­ple dis­placed by war or nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

The 2019 rank­ings were cal­cu­lated us­ing es­ti­mates based on part-year ar­rivals data, mean­ing Hong Kong’s place as the global trav­ellers’ cap­i­tal could still change. The city’s tourist in­dus­try has been badly hit by protests that have raged al­most ev­ery week since June.

How­ever, Euromon­i­tor se­nior an­a­lyst Si­mon Haven said strong ar­rivals num­bers in the first half of the year would lessen the im­pact of the protests on to­tal an­nual visi­tor num­bers. “Over the pe­riod Jan­uary to June of 2019, in­bound ar­rivals grew by 14 per cent versus the same pe­riod last year. In July, ar­rivals started to drop, with the most no­table drop be­ing in Au­gust, when the city ex­pe­ri­enced a 40 per cent drop versus Au­gust 2018,” he wrote in an email.

“Based on the lat­est data avail­able from the Hong Kong Tourism Board, as well as Euromon­i­tor fore­casts, to­tal in­bound ar­rivals into Hong Kong are ex­pected to drop by 5-10 per cent in 2019,” Haven wrote. This de­gree of de­cline would keep the Asian fi­nan­cial hub in pole po­si­tion in 2019, given its lead over Bangkok and strong per­for­mance in 2018.

More broadly, the Euromon­i­tor list shows that Asian tourism is boom­ing. The re­gion ac­counts for sig­nif­i­cantly more lo­ca­tions than any other, and the num­ber has risen steadily since the first edi­tion was pub­lished in 2013. Trav­ellers within Asia are re­spon­si­ble for much of the growth, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, as in­come lev­els rise and the num­ber of Chi­nese vis­i­tors to other coun­tries – as well as mil­len­nial trav­ellers from around the re­gion – in­crease.

The big­gest leap up the rank­ings in 2019 is ex­pected to come from Hurghada in Egypt, which is fore­cast to take 63rd po­si­tion af­ter join­ing the top 100 in 82nd place last year. Thanks in part to a tourism re­form pro­gramme and im­prov­ing se­cu­rity, Egypt re­mains North Africa’s lead­ing des­ti­na­tion, with Cairo also en­joy­ing strong growth. Other no­table climbers among the top 100 in­clude In­dian cities such as Agra and Ban­ga­lore, and Cebu in the Philip­pines.

In Europe, more tra­di­tional travel hotspots like Barcelona, Mi­lan and Vi­enna have slid down the rank­ings, while cities in “off the beaten path des­ti­na­tions such as Croa­tia, Slove­nia and Swe­den have moved up,” the re­port said. For the most part, how­ever, such lo­ca­tions are yet to break the top 100.

Hong Kong






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