Colombo Fastest Growing City in the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index
Posted on June 4th, 2015

Courtesy Adaderana

Five Asian cities – Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Hong Kong – make it into the Global Destination Cities Index top ten. 

Colombo leads the pack as the fastest growing city in terms of international, overnight visitor numbers in the annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index. The rapid rise in tourism after the end of Sri Lanka’s long running civil war brought about Colombo’s double-digit cumulative annual growth rate over the last six years. Seven of the top ten fastest growing cities by visitor number over this period are in Asia.

Forecasted top ten fastest growing cities:

  1. Colombo – 21.1%
  2. Chengdu – 20.7%
  3. AbuDhabi– 20.4%
  4. Osaka – 19.8%
  5. Riyadh – 18.0%
  6. Xi An – 16.2%
  7. Taipei – 14.9%
  8. Tokyo – 14.6%
  9. Lima – 13.9%
  10. Ho ChiMinh City – 12.9%

In addition, Asian cities continue to dominate of the Index, making up half of the top ten. Bangkok has retained its position at number twowith 18.24 million international overnight visitors and is catching up with top-ranked city, London. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Hong Kong round off the top ten, taking seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth place respectively.Forecasted international overnight visitors tothe top ten cities:

  1. London – 18.82 million
  2. Bangkok – 18.24 million
  3. Paris – 16.06 million
  4. Dubai – 14.26 million
  5. Istanbul – 12.56 million


  1. New York – 12.27 million
  2. Singapore – 11.88 million
  3. Kuala Lumpur – 11.12 million
  4. Seoul – 10.35 million
  5. Hong Kong – 8.66 million

Driven by insights into travel patterns, the Global Destinations CitiesIndex provides a ranking of the 132 most visited cities from around the world. More than just a travel tracker, the Index provides an understanding of how people move around the world and the importance of the world’s cities as homes, destinations and engines of growth.

Report in full can be downloaded from here:

Vikas Varma, Executive Director, South Asia for MasterCard, commented,Colombo’s ranking as the fastest growing city on MasterCard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index reflects the rising appeal of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination. Having been in the market for over 25 years, MasterCard sees great potential in the island nation. We will continue to showcase Sri Lanka as a premier tourist destination across our network, offering several exciting benefits and privileges for travelers.” 

Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Chief Economist and Chair of the Academic Advisory Council at the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, said,Against a background of generally weak global economic growth and anemic pace of exports, a vibrant tourism sector is providing a powerful boost to income and job creation in Asia Pacific. As shown by MasterCard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index, Asian cities dominate among the leading destinations in the world in attracting international visitors arriving by air. Even more astonishing is that seven out of the world’s top ten fastest growing destination cities are in Asia Pacific, which is a strong leading indicator of their continuing outstanding performance in the years to come.”

Growth of the East: The resilience of Asian Destination Cities

The majority of visitors to cities in Asia originate from within Asia Pacific. This may help to explain the continued growth of visitor numbers over the last five years as European and North American markets experienced economic slowdown. The top five feeder cities to Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in 2015 are all in Asia Pacific. However, this shows the lack of diversity in the origin of visitors to many destinations in Asia, which presents risks to long term resilience to any global economic shocks. The challenge going forward for many of these otherwise very successful destination cities is to diversify their sources of visitors while maintaining their robust rates of growth. Nevertheless, globally, international overnight visitor numbers and their cross-border spending have consistently grown faster than world real GDP since 2009.

About the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index

The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2015.

Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on MasterCard volumes or transactional data.

About MasterCard: MasterCard (NYSE: MA),,is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

3 Responses to “Colombo Fastest Growing City in the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index”

  1. Sarath W Says:

    Yes, Colombo was the fastest growing city until the 8th of January 2015. Since the Jarapalanaya crooks took over the country it is going backwards even faster and will be dirty dump as it used to be before Gota took over. We have too get rid of this bunch as soon as possible.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    This is the problem!!

    80% of Colombo inhabitants are Tamil or Muslim. They don’t vote for MR. You go and build the city for them, they ate it and voted for My3.

    Had this money gone into serving SINGHALA people’s majority areas it would have translated to votes.

    Pumping water into a pot with a hole.

  3. ranjit Says:

    Thanks to Gota and his team for making Colombo so beautiful and clean. We should be proud as a nation but this current Jarapalanaya will not beautify anything except taking revenge and arresting people and taking our country backward. If you need a beautiful and peaceful country for all to live just bring back MR & Gota in the next General elections without delay.

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