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Asia travel

Hong Kong keeps crown as world’s most visited city in 2017

Despite a growth drop in mainland visitors in 2017, the city still benefits from its strategic location and relationship with China. Its appeal for mainland tourists is expected to bounce back from 2018

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 7:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 11:26pm

Chinese outbound travellers continue to reshape the global destination rankings, making Asia-Pacific the stand-out region in the world, according to a report released Tuesday.

Thanks to its border with China, Hong Kong has kept its crown as the world’s most visited city for the eighth consecutive year, attracting an estimated 26.6 million visits in 2017, according to a report from Euromonitor International, a market research provider.

It was followed by Bangkok and London, which along with Paris, are the only European cities in the top 10 ranking.

“Hong Kong remains the top city in the world as it benefits from its strategic location and relationship with China. However, it saw growth dip in 2017 as relations with mainland China were strained, but growth will pick up again between 2018 and 2025,” said Wouter Geerts, senior analyst at Euromonitor International in a statement.

Shenzhen also ranked in the global top 10, the only mainland city to make the list.

But the importance of mainland Chinese tourists in determining the global rankings cannot be underestimated.

Six of the top 10 most visited cities in the world are from Asia, according to Euromonitor. These include Singapore in the No 4 spot trailed by Macau, Shenzhen and Kuala Lumpur.

Asian cities will dominate the global destination rankings in the next decade, thanks to the inexorable rise of Chinese outbound tourism, the report said.

As many as 41 cities from Asia-Pacific are included in the top 100 city destination in 2017, a rise from 34 cities in 2010. An estimated 47 Asia-Pacific cities are expected to be included in the top 100 ranking in 2025 due to the impact of inter-Asian travel.

This year Seoul, which used to be a popular destination for Chinese travellers, slipped to the bottom of the top 10 destinations in Asia, having suffered a double-digit decline in tourist visits after China banned tour groups from visiting South Korea in retaliation for the deployment of a missile defence system known as THAAD.

South Korean cities are expected to perform the worst in the region, as the strained relationship with China takes its toll. Jeju is expected to see a decline in tourist visits, reversing strong growth in 2016 that was driven by its proximity to China and a visa-free entry scheme, the report said.