Travel and Tourism

These are the cities where visitors spend the most cash

People shop at Dubai Mall June 3, 2012. Traditionally, heightened consumer spending would be a boon for retail banks as it would create more demand for credit - whether it be personal or car loans or credit card spending. But for retail bankers in the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is one of seven emirates, extracting value from the latest consumer boom is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. Picture taken June 3, 2012. To match Analysis EMIRATES-BANKS/RETAIL  REUTERS/Ghazal Watfa  (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - GM2E86D1R8101

Visitors to Dubai spent $17.02 and $16.09 billion last year. Image: REUTERS/Ghazal Watfa

Briony Harris
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Maybe it’s the fact that there are vending machines that dispense solid gold.

But Dubai is significantly outpacing all other cities when it comes to how much money overnight visitors are spending.

Last year, its 14.9 million visitors parted with $28.5 billion, according to the Mastercard Destination Cities Index.

Even though New York and London are magnets for shoppers, both cities lag far behind Dubai, with visitors spending $17.02 and $16.09 billion respectively last year.

Image: Mastercard

While Bangkok is the most popular destination overall - with 19.4 million visitors last year - those visitors spent just under half of what was spent in Dubai.

Almost 90% of visitors to Dubai travelled there on leisure rather than business, and it would appear that a significant part of that leisure time is spent shopping.

Visitors to Dubai spent 31% of their total expenditure on shopping, even more than was spent on accommodation, which accounted for 29% of the total.

Compare that to Paris, where visitors spent 45% of their budget on accommodation and just 16.6% on shopping. In New York visitors spent 31.8% on accommodation and 21.4% on shopping.

Image: Statista

Built for Shopping

Dubai is certainly making sure tourists have plenty of opportunity to part with their cash.

It has 70 shopping malls, as well as souqs where gold, jewellery, perfume, carpets and spices are the most popular purchases.

It also boasts the Dubai Mall, the world’s biggest shopping complex by total area, as well as two shopping festivals.

Planning ahead

Image: Mastercard Destination Cities Index

Growth in international travel and spending has far outperformed growth in GDP.

Since 2009, the world’s real GDP, as measured by the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, has grown by 21.8% in real terms.

But the total number of overnight visitors increased by 55.2% and their spending increased by 41.1%, over the same period.

Amongst emerging travel hotspots, Osaka in Japan is the world’s fastest growing destination. Bucharest is the fastest growing destination in Europe and Miami in holds the honour in North America.

Amongst the world’s top 10 destination cities, only New York is forecast to have a small drop in visitor numbers in 2017.

Meanwhile, spending continues to rise.

Dubai - where most money is already spent - is forecast to enjoy an increase of a further 10% in visitor spending in 2017.

It looks like - where there’s haggling to be done - Dubai is definitely getting the better deal.

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