By Mastercard on September 10, 2019
Kuala Lumpur has emerged as the third most visited APAC destination in Mastercard’s Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI), ahead of Tokyo and Seoul. Bangkok and Singapore take up the first and second spots respectively. Asia Pacific’s five most popular destinations for international travelers welcomed over one-fifth, or 22 percent, of all overnight visitors to the region’s top 161 cities and regional centers in 2018. Kuala Lumpur attracted a total of 13.8 million international travellers and a spend of US$11.13 billion (RM47.5 billion*) in 2018.
Primarily driven by explosive growth in outbound travel from mainland China, these five cities are also capturing more than one-quarter, or 25.2 percent, of total international travel spending in the region. Consistent with this trend, the #1 country of origin for overnight visitors in Kuala Lumpur is China (20.6%). This is followed by visitors from Thailand (11.7%), Indonesia (11.5%), Singapore (8.3%) and India (5.8%).
In 2018, Asia Pacific hosted travelers making 342.2 million business and leisure trips, up from 159.1 million in 2009, representing an 8.9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the nine year period. During the same period, travel spending in Asia Pacific more than doubled, rising from US$117.6 billion (RM494.37 billion*) to US$281.1 billion (RM1.18 trillion*), equating to a compound annual growth rate of 10.2 percent.
In Kuala Lumpur, visitors stayed on average 5.7 days and spent an average of US$142 (RM597*) a day with the top categories for spend being shopping (32.7%), accommodation (25.6%), followed by food and beverage (13.3%).
Other destinations in Malaysia that feature in the ranking include Sabah (26th in APAC, 10th in SEA), Penang (28th in APAC, 11th in SEA), Pahang (34th in APAC, 15th in SEA), Johor (36th in APAC, 17th in SEA), Kedah (59th in APAC, 24th in SEA), and Malacca (60th in APAC, 25th in SEA).
“While the world’s economic, geopolitical, technological and societal landscapes have all changed dramatically since Mastercard launched this research 10 years ago, one thing has remained constant: the desire of ever-growing numbers of people to explore the world beyond their own borders. With the top 20 cities attracting nearly half (49.8 percent) of all international overnight arrivals to the 161 destinations ranked in the APDI, it is important to understand not only how continuously rising travel numbers impact cities and destinations for the better, but also the challenges they pose. This equips governments, merchants and the global travel industry with the information and insights they need to better serve their residents and visitors,” said Rupert Naylor, Senior Vice President, Data & Services, Asia Pacific, Mastercard.
“Malaysia is one of the key growth markets and Mastercard is excited to see cities such as Kuala Lumpur enjoy positive trajectory that will elevate travel and tourism opportunities while creating significant economic benefits. With data and insights from the index, multiple players across various industries in Malaysia will be able to capitalize on these opportunities to access new customers and markets,” said Perry Ong, Country Manager, Malaysia and Brunei, Mastercard.
Backed by a decade of destination insights, Mastercard’s 2019 APDI highlights four key trends that are shaping the future of travel in the Asia Pacific region.
As travelers from these markets continue to increase by remarkable percentages year over year, Mastercard will continue to bring together resources from both the public and private sectors to help tourism partners better understand commerce patterns and deliver attractive experiences for eager travelers from across the region.
The APDI is a regional subset of the Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI). More information and the full GDCI report can be found here.