London tops city destination list

London is the world leading city destination in 2011 for international tourists, according to a poll released by MasterCard.

The capital beat Paris, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong into the top spot. The financial giant predicts that London will receive 20.1m inbound passengers this year, which is 2m more visitors than Paris who polled second.

MasterCard also believes international expenditure will reach $25.6bn (£15.6bn) in the capital, more than New York’s $20.3bn (£12.4bn).

These costs not only include tourism spending in shops, restaurants and transport costs, but also in business spending; through the booking of meeting venues and conference centres for example.

The presence of Asian-Pacific markets was consistent throughout the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities: Cross-Border Travel and Expenditures report. Eight of the top 20 were cities from this region, The Independent reported.

Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard’s global economic adviser, said that international travel was a key indicator of monitoring economic growth in the post-crisis global economy.

It underpins the “growth of key industries, such as transportation, retail and hospitality, as well as professional services like marketing and advertising,” he said in a MasterCard company statement.

“The economic and business impacts of international travel are especially pronounced in cities that are popular destinations of international travel, and in the destination cities, spending by international visitors contributes significantly to local commerce and business activities, amplifying the dynamism of these urban economies,” he added.

The company compiled its predictions of international arrivals, by analysing airline schedules and UN expenditure figures.