Despite Protests, Hong Kong Will Have the Most Global Arrivals in 2019

Bangkok, London, Macau and Singapore round out Euromonitor's top five

Hong Kong protest
Even though arrivals to Hong Kong are expected to fall almost 9% in 2019, it remained the most visited country in the world. Getty Images

Despite more than half a year of turmoil, Hong Kong is expected to see more arrivals in 2019 than any other city in the world. That’s according to Euromonitor International, which released its annual review of the world’s top 100 cities by arrivals.

Since March, pro-democracy protestors have swarmed Hong Kong’s streets, primarily on the weekends, to challenge China’s authoritative political involvement in the region.

Even though visits to Hong Kong are predicted to fall at least 8.7% in 2019, according to Euromonitor, the city is still expected to welcome 26.7 million arrivals, with more than 50% of those coming from mainland China. In 2018, Hong Kong totaled 29 million arrivals.

Euromonitor’s report is based on 2018’s recorded international arrivals, encompassing any person visiting another country for at least 24 hours for business or recreation, as well as partial 2019 data.

In 2019, at least 47% of the world’s global arrivals are expected to be in Euromonitor’s top 100 cities, an increase of 6.2%.

Globally, arrivals are expected to surpass 1.5 billion in 2019, an increase of 4.2% year over year. More than 200 million of those will be Chinese tourists, according to Caroline Bremner, head of travel for Euromonitor.

“It’s definitely driven by interregional travel,” Bremner said. “The outbound market in China is very strong. … There’s a high level of millennials that are tech-savvy and highly mobile.”

Bangkok, London, Macau and Singapore round out Euromonitor’s top five for 2018. New York is the only city in the Americas to appear in the top 25 for 2018 and is expected to welcome 14 million arrivals in 2019, an increase of 3%.

While Delhi, India is currently ranked 11th, it looks to enter the top 10 in 2019, with an expected growth of 20.2%. Behind Asia, which has 43 cities in the top 100, Europe is considered the world’s fastest-growing regional destination with 32 cities in the rankings.

London, third among arrivals in 2018, saw growth drop 3% and is predicted to fall an additional 1.7% in 2019. Euromonitor credits Brexit fears for the fall.

Despite sociopolitical uncertainty, there won’t be many changes in the top 10 in 2019.

“From year to year, you won’t see much change,” said travel expert Tim Leffel. “New York will always be popular. Paris will always be popular. I wonder if Bangkok will surpass Hong Kong. It’s seen steady growth and they’ve weathered some terrible political storms, and they haven’t missed a beat. Hong Kong has been in the news constantly for months. … It takes a long time for leisure travelers to forget.”

Today, more than 55% of the world’s population lives in cities, according to Euromonitor, and within the next century, that figure could increase to 85%.

“[Cities] are magnetic for economic growth; they attract entrepreneurs and startups. … If you’re a marketer or advertiser, you have to take more of a city-centric view,” Bremner said.

The report also forecasts six more megacities—cities with more than 10 million residents—by 2030, bringing the total to 39 worldwide.


@RyanBarwick ryan.barwick@adweek.com Ryan is a brand reporter covering travel, mobility and sports marketing.
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