Paris named world’s most powerful city destination by WTTC

Hong Kong expected to take number position within 10 years

Paris skyline | Photo by Viviana Ceballos/Pexels

Paris has been rated as the world’s most powerful city destination, according to research undertaken by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). However, Beijing is likely to take the lead by 2032.

The report, sponsored by Visa and researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, analysed key indicators such as Travel & Tourism’s contribution to GDP, employment and traveller spend.

COVID-19 had a devastating impact on Travel & Tourism and in particular major cities around the world as countries closed their borders in response to the pandemic. As borders reopened, many leisure travellers swapped city visits for less-populated destinations such as coastal and rural destinations, but latest research from WTTC shows that city holidays are back and growing in popularity.

The Lourve, Paris | Credit: Mahmure Koseoglee/Pexels

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Paris takes the crown as the world’s most powerful city destination with a Travel & Tourism sector worth almost US$36 billion in 2022, in terms of direct GDP contribution to the city.

Over the next 10 years, WTTC predicts it will drop down to third place, although its value will rise to over US$49 billion.

Beijing is currently the second biggest city destination in the world with a Travel & Tourism sector worth nearly US$33 billion. However, the WTTC predicts it will leapfrog Paris within the next 10 years, growing to a staggering US$77 billion.

China’s national Travel & Tourism sector has seen phenomenal growth over the last decade as the country has invested in new hotels, transport infrastructure and new tourist destinations. This investment in Travel & Tourism sees Shanghai’s sector, worth nearly US$30 billion last year, predicted to more than double to almost US$71 billion by 2032, to become the world’s second most powerful city destination.

Top 10 Spending markets, by cities in 2023 vs 2033

China’s national Travel & Tourism sector has seen phenomenal growth over the last decade as the country has invested in new hotels, transport infrastructure and new tourist destinations. This investment in Travel & Tourism sees Shanghai’s sector, worth nearly US$30 billion last year, predicted to more than double to almost US$71 billion by 2032, to become the world’s second most powerful city destination.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Major cities such as London, Paris and New York will remain global powerhouses but over the next few years, Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau will be moving up the list of top city destinations.

“Tourists will always have favourite cities that they will return to, but as other countries prioritise Travel & Tourism, we are going to see new and emerging destinations challenging the traditional favourites.”

Other cities outside the top 10 showing promising growth as emerging destinations include the Polish capital of Warsaw which has seen a 14.4% increase in its GDP contribution in 2022 versus 2019.

Sanya, the Chinese coastal city which has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, witnessed a 10.2% growth during that same period. Its Travel & Tourism sector represents an incredible 43.6% of the city’s total economy. Macau’s Travel & Tourism sector represents 40.4% of the city’s total economy.

Hong Kong is expected to be the number 1 destination for international travel spend by 2032

The top five cities with biggest international travellers spend in 2022 were:

1. Dubai – US$29.42b
2. Doha – US$16.79b
3. London – US$16.07b
4. Macau – US$15.58b
5. Amsterdam – US$13.59b
6. Istanbul – US$13.13b
7. Barcelona – US$12.73b
8. New York – US$12.45b
9. Singapore – US$10.97b
10. Paris – US$9.76b

In 2032, WTTC predicts the top five cities with biggest international traveller spend will change to be:

1. Hong Kong – US$52.06b (up 38 places from 2022)
2. Macau – US$43.14b (up two places from 2022)
3. Dubai – US$42.98b (down two places from 2022)
4. Singapore – US$37.43b (up five places from 2022)
5. Bangkok – US$33.45b (up seven places from 2022)
6. Doha – US$31.63b (down four places from 2022)
7. Tokyo – US$25.44b (up 30 places from 2022)
8. New York – US$21.73b (no change from 2022)
9. Amsterdam – US$21.53b (down four places from 2022)
10. Shanghai – US$21.3b (up 11 places from 2022)

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