FOR the fourth time in a row, Bangkok was ranked as the top destination for international overnight visitors.
According to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI), this was also the sixth time Bangkok clinched the top spot in the past decade.
In fact, three cities from Thailand – Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket made it to the list of top 20 international overnight visitor destinations, while Bangkok and Phuket were among the top 10 for spending by international overnight visitors.
Reports in The Bangkok Post revealed that annual international overnight visitors spent more than US$20 billion in Bangkok, a 15 per cent increase from 2017, while in Phuket they spent more than $12 billion, a 9 per cent increase year-on-year.
Malaysian visitors contributed to Hat Yai’s growth of over 19 per cent, which is the highest increase in the survey.
China was Thailand's largest origin market, even as several of Thailand's famous holiday destinations - particularly the islands - saw an increase in visitors from Europe and Japan.
The GDCI 2019 ranks 200 cities based on proprietary Mastercard analysis of visitor volume and spending in 2018.
The study also highlighted several emerging destinations, including Koh Phangan, which joined the top 100 for Asia-Pacific at 96.
Koh Phangan overtook island locations like Koh Chang (139), Koh Tao (130), Boracay in the Philippines (129) and Lombok in Indonesia (110). Hat Yai (31) jumped 27 places in 2018.
Visitors from Germany topped island destinations such as Phangnga (25.1%), Koh Samui (17.1%), Koh Tao (11.4%) and Koh Chang (11.3%).
Japanese visitors accounted for 25.5 per cent of arrivals in Ayutthaya, the nation's ancient capital, an increase of 1.7 per cent from 2017.
The GDCI helps public and private sector tourism partners around the world understand how international travel is impacting cities, identify challenges and gauge how to deliver more connected and inclusive experiences.