BANGKOK, Sept.22 (Xinhua) -- Bangkok has edged out London as the world's most visited city, according to the 2016 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released on Thursday.
The Thai capital is projected to welcome 21.47 million international visitors in 2016, just ahead of second-ranked London with a forecast of 19.88 million overnight visitors, according to an annual ranking of the listing of 132 cities by global payments and technology company MasterCard.
"Asia Pacific has been the fastest growing region for international tourism since 2005, with underlying growth momentum expected to continue especially with the burgeoning middle class in Southeast Asia, China and India seeking new travel experiences within the region," Eric Schneider, MasterCard Advisors' senior vice president for Asia Pacific said.
The index showed that Asia Pacific dominates five cities of the global top 10 and seven of the top 10 fastest growing destinations.
The index also revealed that, among the top 20 cities, more people travel internationally for leisure than business. This is most common in Bangkok where 85.6 percent of visitors travel with purposes for leisure while Shanghai is the only top 20 city where the majority of visitors are business travellers.
Thailand expects to receive a record 33 million visitors this year, thanks to a jump in the number of Chinese tourists, who are believed to number over 10 million in 2016.
Thailand's tourism has been considered as the only engine driving the economy of the country facing headwinds from public spending, domestic consumption and exports.
Despite of a spate with bomb blasts in southern provinces in August and crackdowns on zero-dollar tour operation, the number of arrivals to the country is still growing.