How many international visitors do our cities see?

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Hong Kong – number one for international visitors

One of the big moves over the last few years has been the growth in city breaks which, it is claimed are more popular than beach holidays.

The research firm Euromonitor, has recently published its list of the top 100 visited cities and one UK city and one Irish city is included. It will surprise no reader when I say that those two cities are London which is ranked third and Dublin which comes in at 46th.

The top five cities were Hong Kong, Bangkok, London, Singapore and Macao with Paris coming 6th, Dubai in 7th position, New York in 8th, Kuala Lumpur in 9th and the Chinese city of Shenzen in 10th.

The dominance of Asian cities is probably due to the fact that they are located in areas where billions of people live and thus find it easier to attract “locals” to visit them rather than take long-haul flights to come to Europe, North or South America.

But out of 100 cities surely other places in the UK should appear?

France has two cities in the top 100, Paris and Nice. Italy has four; Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence with Spain having two. (Madrid and Barcelona.) Germany has three, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt. There are seven US cities in the top 100 and China has eight if you include Hong Kong and Macau.

Where are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham? One reason they may not appear is because of the methodology employed by Euromonitor. It defines inclusion in the rankings as “International arrivals by city includes visitors from abroad who arrive at the city under review as their first point of entry.” Most international visitors to the UK will use London airports rather than regional ones despite the many connections that cities like Edinburgh and Manchester have. It also doesn’t include “same-day visitors, people in transit and cruise passengers.”

But aren’t cruise passengers and day visitors also tourists? It is just a 45 minute flight from Amsterdam to Edinburgh and many cities in Europe are but an hour or two away. Surely in future studies these types of visitor should be included so we can properly gauge the impact of international tourists on cities.

Euromonitor is understating the number of international visitors to various UK and Irish cities if they do not.

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