Thứ Bảy, 12 tháng 7, 2014

World"s 5 most popular cities

Last month I grinned at this glittering view of London as our United 767 approached Heathrow. See the Thames? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

London is the most popular travel destination in the world. (I would agree with that!) The British capital reclaimed the most popular spot based on air travel arrivals and foreign visitor spending, besting last year’s most popular destination, Bangkok, by more than 2 million visitors according to MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index released this week.

Where else are people traveling? Behind London and Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai rounded the top five locations across the globe.

I’ve been to all five of these cities within the last five years, but as a business travel columnist for SFgate and BBC, that’s not out of the ordinary. But what about you? Read on to learn what I truly think about these places, and please let me know if you agree with me or not! See comments below!

Thankfully, MasterCard narrowed down the content of its massive report to the following data points. See my comments in italics after each… and please leave your comments below!

Who’s traveling to the most popular destination in the world? Visitors to London come most often by way of New York, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Stockholm and Dublin. London will always remain in my top 2-3 cities because every time I go (and I’ve been at least once per year for the last 20 years) I find something new or interesting there. It has a dynamic dining and hotel scene, is always modernizing or changing, and just feels like the center of the universe to me. Some recent new finds: The Great Northern Hotel in the now-hip-once-seedy area around Kings Cross Station on the north side of town. The Borough Market is always worth a visit, especially now that you can make a side trip into the new, nearby Shard and have a look at the new Shangri-La hotel inside it. 

View from a room at the new Shangri-La Paris. Who can’t love Paris? (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Interestingly, Dubai is poised to eclipse Paris and Singapore as a more popular city than within five years if it continues to show such healthy growth number. I don’t get the attraction to Dubai. Once the novelty wears off (in a day or two) it feels like Las Vegas without the gambling and limited booze to me. Sure, it has a futuristic airport, a fab hometown airline, glam hotels and big architecture, but it was hot and dusty most of the time I was there. And I can’t help but keep wondering what would happen to the place if the desalinization plants ever shut down. Sure, it’s great for a stop over or a business trip, but I don’t think I’d go back on my own dime. Now, Paris  is a complete other story. Who can’t love Paris? Enough said. I had a really great time on a recent trip to Singapore– I really liked eating like a local at the “hawker stalls” and inspecting a raft of new hotels, but I was put off by the stifling heat, humidity and painfully high prices. Also, it seems unfair that locals are only allowed into casinos by paying a steep fee, but foreigners get in for free (and yes, they ask for passports at the casino door). But it’s worth seeing, especially that spaceship-like Marina Bay Sands with the pool on the roof. Wow! 

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Perhaps the most surprising result this year is that Lima, Peru broke through as the first Latin American city to rank in the top 20 most popular destinations in the world and had more than double the visitors (5.11 million) as presumed more popular cities: Mexico City (2.57 million) or Sao Paulo (2.51 million). I have not been to Lima, but hope to make it there one day soon, even though LAN recently cut its nonstops from SFO. It’s been interesting to see the popularity of Peruvian cuisine sweep across the US. On the downside, I’ve heard that Lima is somewhat gritty and cloudy most of the time, so I’d probably hightail it outta there and hit the Andes and Machu Picchu after a few days. I was in Mexico City last year and really REALLY liked it. It’s definitely cleaned up its act lately, has a fun food/dining scene and lots of new hotels– it’s clearly a sleeper city. 

To read more (or leave your comments) about the most popular cities in the world, click on over to The TravelSkills blog! 

Click on the photo to learn where this fab airport lounge is located!

–Chris McGinnis


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World"s 5 most popular cities

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