Riyadh is ranked 19th in the list of the most visited cities in the world in 2013, with Dubai placed in the seventh position, according to MasterCard global destination cities index.
The top destination city in terms of international visitor arrivals in 2013 is Bangkok, which edged out London by a very slim margin. This is the first time that an Asian city has figured at the top since the Index was launched in 2010.
Citing a report from Forbes Magazine, Saud Al-Moqbel, media head at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), told Arab News that Riyadh, which figured in the list for the first time, was expected to receive 5.4 million visitors this year. According to him, business and work-related visits formed a major chunk of visitors’ volume to the capital, which is regarded as one of the most important economic and commercial cities in the world, and home to many international companies and offices. Riyadh also hosts numerous conferences and economic activities that attract large numbers of visitors, he said.
London was followed by Paris, Singapore, New York, Istanbul and Dubai. Though Paris is in third position, it is the only destination city among the top 20 that has shown a decline in the estimated number of international visitor arrivals.
In contrast, Istanbul and Dubai have shown the strongest growth (along with Bangkok) in arrivals recording an increase of 9.5 percent and 10.9 percent respectively.
With the exception of Bangkok overtaking London to be in the top rank in the world, the lineup of the global top 20 in 2013 is the same as in 2012.
"Destination cities in emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia are expanding the fastest in being connected to the rest of the world through having more flights to more cities, and more frequent flights to cities where they are already connected," said an article on the survey posted on MasterCard's website.
"This will strongly drive the growth of their visitor arrivals and cross-border spending in the coming years," it added.