EXCLUSIVE: MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index… is Australia running out of credit?

The tourism sector has been identified by government as a driver of economic and jobs growth so it’s always good doing a bit of number crunching when major surveys are released.

Fortunately, we’ve had a bit of time to go over the latest annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index and look at how Australian cities are doing – with some help from the guys at Mastercard.

This year, both Melbourne and Sydney feature in the Asia/Pacific Top 10 Destinations Cities by International Overnight Visitor Spend but are outperformed by Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo (and Shanghai in Melbourne’s case). And when it came to visitor numbers they were again outperformed by the likes of Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Shanghai and Tokyo – with neither city featuring in the Top 20.

There was some good news however with Sydney making the list of Top 20 global destinations, by spend – suggesting that those who do visit, spend significantly on shopping, restaurants and tourist attractions – and spending in both Melbourne and Sydney was on the rise compared to 2013.

It got us thinking. What about the historical trend? Are Sydney and Melbourne slipping down the popularity list? Is there any evidence of this going back over the history of the survey?

There is.

The main impact for 2014 lies on the expenditure side of things where the historical series has been revised downwards, according to Mastercard. The key reason for this is that in 2013 they used the Balance of Payment (BOP) accounts (travel sub-account) as the expenditure benchmark for basing all our estimates. But the BOP includes International student expenditure (tuition and board). While this is not significant in most countries, in Australia, of course, it is – 6% of all arrivals are students but their expenditure is 47% of total arrival expenditure. So, in 2014, they removed the education tuition and board component to bring the overall expenditure in line with general tourism.

It means, globally, Sydney is on a downer – in fact, it has been blown away by its international rivals.

Melbourne remains fairly constant.

Expenditure Ranking over the years

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Sydney (AU) NS

13

12

13

13

15

17

Melbourne (AU)

28

27

24

23

25

25

 

Int’l overnight arrivals Ranking over the years

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Sydney (AU) NS

30

34

36

36

37

39

Melbourne (AU)

56

56

56

57

56

53

 

Make of that data what you will.

Going back to this year’s survey, who’s the top dog? London and according to the study, it will get 18.7 million international visitors in 2014. Forecasted visitors to the rest of the top five cities are:

  • Bangkok – 16.42 million
  • Paris – 15.57 million visitors
  • Singapore – 12.47 million visitors
  • Dubai – 11.95 million visitors

A few other trends include:

  • Asia/Pacific is home to half of the top ten destination cities.
  • Two thirds of London’s international visitors are from other European cities.
  • Lima is still Latin America’s fastest growing city.
  • As one of the fastest growing cities on the globe, Dubai is one on track to overtake Paris and Singapore within five years.
  • Chicago will be the fastest growing US city this year.

The MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index provides a ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world, if you want to take a look at the full list.

What do you make of the data? Are you worried? Does the performance of China, Thailand and elsewhere mean game over for Australia? Or it is a bit of a wakeup call? Have your say below.

Image via Getty

3 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index… is Australia running out of credit?

  • July 18, 2014 at 3:15 pm
    Permalink

    What do I make of this data? I make a move to the countryside. The millions can have the cities.

    Reply
  • January 29, 2015 at 12:21 pm
    Permalink

    Oz has so many beautiful places -BUT- Budget Travel in and around Oz must drop. Oil per barrel has dropped to A$46 from A$115 in June last? Visas are expensive and take ages to process compared to other countries- Wages, penalty rates and taxes need sorting to reduce costs to compete on the world stage

    Reply

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