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. - AFP

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 1.5 billion trips.

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.

Kuala Lumpur city – 14.1 million (NSTP/OSMAN ADNAN)

Broadly speaking, 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. Travelers within Asia are responsible for much of the growth, according to the report, as income levels rise and the numbers 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.

Top 10 city destinations 2019 (and arrivals)

1. Hong Kong – 26.7 million

2. Bangkok – 25.8 million

3. Macau – 20.6 million

4. Singapore – 19.8 million

5. London – 19.6 million

6. Paris – 19.1 million

7. Dubai – 16.3 million

8. Delhi – 15.2 million

9. Istanbul – 14.7 million

10. Kuala Lumpur – 14.1 million - Bloomberg