Infographic: The 100 Most Popular City Destinations
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The 100 Most Popular City Destinations

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100 Most Popular City Destinations for Travel

The 100 Most Popular City Destinations

The pandemic has grounded many of us, but it can’t curb human wanderlust.

Cities like Hong Kong, Bangkok, and London have led city destination rankings for years, but movement within the ranks below them—revealed in the above infographic—help to highlight the intriguing travel trends happening before COVID-19.

With data from Euromonitor International’s 2019 travel report, we can uncover where travelers are likely headed once their passports are useful again. Pulling data from 400 cities, collected into mid-2019, the report encompasses millions of international travelers who stayed at their destination longer than 24 hours.

Here’s a closer look at where travelers are likely to touch down in post-pandemic life.

Not-So-Lonely At the Top

Although the top of this list has remained fairly stable in terms of rank in recent years, two cities have seen an impressive influx of travelers.

Paris and Istanbul both made significant gains between 2017 and 2019 with 20.6% and 37.2% growth in visitors respectively:

Note that only one North American city, New York City, is found in this top 10. As well, Asian cities account for half of the leading group, with two of the top 10 cities are located in China. Although Hong Kong leads the top 100 list, political turmoil led to a marked decline of international visitors of 4.2% from 2017 to 2019.

The largest rank changes in the top 10 were made by Macau and Istanbul, but the rise was subtle. Both cities gained two spots each between 2013 and 2018, though each had sizable traveler growth rates, with Macau growing by 19.0%.

RankCityCountryArrivals (Millions)5yr Rank ChangeGrowth ('17-19)
1Hong KongChina (SAR)29.26-4.2%
2BangkokThailand24.1715.1%
3LondonUnited Kingdom19.23-1.4%
4MacauChina (SAR)18.93219.0%
5SingaporeSingapore18.55-112.2%
6ParisFrance17.56-120.6%
7DubaiUAE15.923.4%
8New York CityUS13.6017.0%
9Kuala LumpurMalaysia13.4319.6%
10IstanbulTurkey13.43237.2%
11DelhiIndia12.653049.6%
12AntalyaTurkey12.44-140.6%
13ShenzhenChina12.20-52.0%
14MumbaiIndia10.592838.5%
15PhuketThailand10.558.4%
16RomeItaly10.07-38.3%
17TokyoJapan9.99159.3%
18PattayaThailand9.61-18.9%
19TaipeiTaiwan, China9.60-17.7%
20MeccaSaudi Arabia9.5710.3%
21GuangzhouChina9.00-50.1%
22PragueCzechia8.95-33.9%
23MedinaSaudi Arabia8.5510.7%
24SeoulSouth Korea8.43-1019.1%
25AmsterdamNetherlands8.35312.6%
26AgraIndia8.143852.6%
27MiamiUS8.12-76.9%
28OsakaJapan7.866936.2%
29Los AngelesUS7.50-77.8%
30ShanghaiChina7.48-77.8%
31Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam7.20631.6%
32DenpasarIndonesia7.191337.5%
33BarcelonaSpain6.71-611.6%
34Las VegasUS6.59-9-0.8%
35MilanItaly6.48-93.9%
36ChennaiIndia6.42755.8%
37ViennaAustria6.41-87.1%
38Johor BahruMalaysia6.40829.8%
39JaipurIndia6.382942.9%
40CancunMexico6.04171.8%
41BerlinGermany5.96-1010.1%
42CairoEgypt5.751855.1%
43AthensGreece5.731831.3%
44OrlandoUS5.55-108.7%
45MoscowRussia5.51-1024.4%
46VeniceItaly5.50-165.3%
47MadridSpain5.44-86.3%
48Ha LongVietnam5.291444.0%
49RiyadhSaudi Arabia5.27-90.9%
50DublinIreland5.21-129.4%
51FlorenceItaly5.06-153.9%
52Ha NoiVietnam4.692119.3%
53TorontoCanada4.5110.5%
54JohannesburgSouth Africa4.12-103.4%
55SydneyAustralia4.09112.1%
56MunichGermany4.06-711.0%
57JakartaIndonesia4.031730.9%
58BeijingChina4.00-253.8%
59St. PetersburgRussia4.00-1123.9%
60BrusselsBelgium3.94-1324.8%
61JerusalemIsrael3.93-927.0%
62BudapestHungary3.82-710.4%
63LisbonPortugal3.5493.4%
64DammamSaudi Arabia3.50-140.3%
65Penang IslandMalaysia3.44-216.3%
66HeraklionGreece3.40-1-3.8%
67KyotoJapan3.29584.4%
68ZhuhaiChina3.26-94.4%
69VancouverCanada3.211313.3%
70Chiang MaiThailand3.2064.2%
71CopenhagenDenmark3.0787.8%
72San FranciscoUS2.90-143.1%
73MelbourneAustralia2.891220.9%
74KrakowPoland2.85-83.9%
75MarrakechMorocco2.84213.1%
76KolkattaIndia2.831422.3%
77CebuPhilippines2.8151-4.2%
78AucklandNew Zealand2.8069.7%
79Tel AvivIsrael2.78-816.0%
80GuilinChina2.752919.7%
81HonoluluUS2.74-116.0%
82HurgadaEgypt2.7445108.1%
83WarsawPoland2.73-167.2%
84MuglaTurkey2.72-3347.5%
85Buenos Aires CityArgentina2.69-318.6%
86ChibaJapan2.6810614.4%
87FrankfurtGermany2.64-79.2%
88StockholmSweden2.6010.1%
89LimaPeru2.54-1117.5%
90Da NangVietnam2.517244.0%
91BatamIndonesia2.492027.8%
92NiceFrance2.47-1710.7%
93FukuokaJapan2.4410424.6%
94Abu DhabiUAE2.401214.7%
95JejuSouth Korea2.35-8-6.2%
96PortoPortugal2.342211.7%
97RhodesGreece2.34-1110.6%
98Rio de JaneiroBrazil2.28-73.6%
99KrabiThailand2.26-512.7%
100BangaloreIndia2.248350.6%

It’s also worth noting that based on the data collected into 2019, London was projected to continue its downward trend, bringing it to 5th spot—mostly due to complications brought on by Brexit and associated visa restrictions.

Trending: Indian and Japanese Cities Take Flight

Most of the dramatic shifts in city travel patterns are happening below the top 10. Asian hot spots are gaining steam and swiftly making their way up the top 100 rankings, signaling a shift in global preferences before lockdowns began.

Take Japan for instance. The five Japanese cities in the top 100 rose by 352 places collectively since 2013. The country’s top city destinations have had an average traveler growth rate of 17.8% from 2017 to 2019. In light of Japan’s impeccable containment of COVID-19, that trend may be compounded in coming years.

Japan’s dramatic rise in the ranks is echoed by India. India’s seven cities in the top 100 have risen 229 places — with a huge average growth rate of 44.6% from 2017 to 2019. Some of that growth is the result of lifestyle tourism, particularly in the case of Delhi, which saw its traveler rate grow by 49.6% since 2017.

Prior to the pandemic, Delhi was expected to continue that steady growth and experience a leap in rank, which currently sits at 11.

With health and wellness tourism on the rise, India has gained noteworthy attention for its yoga retreats and Ayurveda practices. Delhi’s connectivity to important locations across North India has boosted inbound arrivals to the city.

— Euromonitor International

Where in the World? Asia and Europe

Asia continues to lead all other regions, followed by Europe.

Since 2013, the number of Asian cities in the top 100 has grown from 34 to 43. Asian outbound travel has also seen a surge, spurring a rise in travel campaigns from Europe and the Americas that target Asian travelers on social media platforms like WeChat.

Why the Ranking Matters: In Travel, They Trust

Before the pandemic, tourism was considered a leading and resilient economic sector.

In 2019, 1.5 billion people traveled internationally. By 2030, that number could grow to 1.8 billion—and many cities could become increasingly reliant on tourist dollars.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, cities like Macau, Cancun, Marrakech, and Las Vegas are all heavily dependent on direct tourism and travel contributions to their respective GDPs. As of 2018, more than 50% of Macau’s GDP was derived directly from tourism, while almost half of Cancun’s GDP relies on travelers.

Countries like India and the Philippines are also particularly reliant on travel. India has a related job-to-tourist ratio of two jobs for every tourist and the Philippines has a ratio of one job per tourist.

By 2030, there could be 1.8 billion tourists – just over one in five persons in the world–traveling around the globe.

United Nations World Tourism Organization

Where to Next? Wheels Up

Millions of travelers don’t lie — the siren call of cities is undeniable. In turn, those tourists have become a major lifeforce for many of these destinations, and a boon for the international travel industry.

The pandemic has thrown these dynamics off course, with much of the world grinding to a halt since early 2020. However, it’s only a matter of time before the world opens back up again.

Although travel may look very different in the future, wanderlust doesn’t simply disappear. In fact, frustrated travelers — including digital nomads and remote workers — may have all the more reason to run away.

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Demographics

Mapped: A Decade of Population Growth and Decline in U.S. Counties

This map shows which counties in the U.S. have seen the most growth, and which places have seen their populations dwindle in the last 10 years.

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A Decade of Population Growth and Decline in U.S. Counties

There are a number of factors that determine how much a region’s population changes.

If an area sees a high number of migrants, along with a strong birth rate and low death rate, then its population is bound to increase over time. On the flip side, if more people are leaving the area than coming in, and the region’s birth rate is low, then its population will likely decline.

Which areas in the United States are seeing the most growth, and which places are seeing their populations dwindle?

This map, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows a decade of population movement across U.S. counties, painting a detailed picture of U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020.

Counties With The Biggest Population Growth from 2010-2020

To calculate population estimates for each county, the U.S. Census Bureau does the following calculations:

A county’s base population → plus births → minus deaths → plus migration = new population estimate

 
From 2010 to 2020, Maricopa County in Arizona saw the highest increase in its population estimate. Over a decade, the county gained 753,898 residents. Below are the counties that saw the biggest increases in population:

RankCountyPoint of ReferenceStatePop. Growth (2010–2020)
#1Maricopa CountyPhoenix, ScottsdaleArizona+753,898
#2Harris CountyHoustonTexas+630,711
#3Clark CountyLas VegasNevada+363,323
#4King CountySeattleWashington+335,884
#5Tarrant CountyFort Worth, ArlingtonTexas+305,180
#6Bexar CountySan AntonioTexas+303,982
#7Riverside CountyRiverside, Palm SpringsCalifornia+287,626
#8Collin CountyPlanoTexas+284,967
#9Travis CountyAustinTexas+270,111
#10Hillsborough CountyTampaFlorida+264,446

Phoenix and surrounding areas grew faster than any other major city in the country. The region’s sunny climate and amenities are popular with retirees, but another draw is housing affordability. Families from more expensive markets—California in particular—are moving to the city in droves. This is a trend that spilled over into the pandemic era as more people moved into remote and hybrid work situations.

Texas counties saw a lot of growth as well, with five of the top 10 gainers located in the state of Texas. A big draw for Texas is its relatively affordable housing market. In 2021, average home prices in the state stood at $172,500$53,310 below the national average.

Counties With The Biggest Population Drops from 2010-2020

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here’s a look at the top 10 counties that saw the biggest declines in their populations over the decade:

RankCountyPoint of ReferenceStatePop. Growth (2010–2020)
#1Cook CountyChicagoIllinois-90,693
#2Wayne CountyDetroitMichigan-74,224
#3Cuyahoga CountyClevelandOhio-50,220
#4Genesee CountyFlintMichigan-20,165
#5Suffolk CountyLong IslandNew York-20,064
#6Caddo ParishShreveportLouisiana-18,173
#7Westmoreland CountyMurrysvillePennsylvania-17,942
#8Hinds CountyJacksonMississippi-17,751
#9Kanawha CountyCharlestonWest Virginia-16,672
#10Cambria CountyJohnstownPennsylvania-14,786

The largest drops happened in counties along the Great Lakes, including Cook County (which includes the city of Chicago) and Wayne County (which includes the city of Detroit).

For many of these counties, particularly those in America’s “Rust Belt”, population drops over this period were a continuation of decades-long trends. Wayne County is an extreme example of this trend. From 1970 to 2020, the area lost one-third of its population.

U.S. Population Growth in Percentage Terms (2010-2020)

While the map above is great at showing where the greatest number of Americans migrated, it downplays big changes in counties with smaller populations.

For example, McKenzie County in North Dakota, with a 2020 population of just 15,242, was the fastest-growing U.S. county over the past decade. The county’s 138% increase was driven primarily by the Bakken oil boom in the area. High-growth counties in Texas also grew as new sources of energy were extracted in rural areas.

The nation’s counties are evenly divided between population increase and decline, and clear patterns emerge.

population changes in u.s. counties (%)

Pandemic Population Changes

More recent population changes reflect longer-term trends. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the counties that saw the strongest population increases were located in high-growth states like Florida and Texas.

Below are the 20 counties that grew the most from 2020 to 2021.

RankCountyPoint of ReferenceStatePop. Growth (2020–2021)
#1Maricopa CountyPhoenixArizona+58,246
#2Collin CountyPlanoTexas+36,313
#3Riverside CountyRiverside, Palm SpringsCalifornia+35,631
#4Fort Bend CountySugar LandTexas+29,895
#5Williamson CountyGeorgetownTexas+27,760
#6Denton CountyDentonTexas+27,747
#7Polk CountyLakelandFlorida+24,287
#8Montgomery CountyThe WoodlandsTexas+23,948
#9Lee CountyFort MyersFlorida+23,297
#10Utah CountyProvoUtah+21,843
#11Pinal CountySan Tan ValleyArizona+19,974
#12Clark CountyLas VegasNevada+19,090
#13Pasco CountyNew Port RicheyFlorida+18,322
#14Wake CountyRaleighNorth Carolina+16,651
#15St. Johns CountySt. AugustineFlorida+15,550
#16Hillsborough CountyTampaFlorida+14,814
#17Bexar CountySan AntonioTexas+14,184
#18Ada CountyBoiseIdaho+13,947
#19Osceola CountyKissimmeeFlorida+12,427
#20St. Lucie CountyFort PierceFlorida+12,304

Many of these counties are located next to large cities, reflecting a shift to the suburbs and larger living spaces. However, as COVID-19 restrictions ease, and the pandemic housing boom tapers off due to rising interest rates, it remains to be seen whether the suburban shift will continue, or if people begin to migrate back to city centers.

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Misc

This Clever Map is a Window into 19th Century New York City

The early 1800s were a time of rapid change in New York City. This map shows the city in 1836, alongside the modern day metropolis.

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Manhattan 1836 vs today-map

The early 19th century was a time of great change for New York, which had already cemented its status as America’s largest city.

The opening of the Erie Canal helped turn the city into a shipping powerhouse, and there was a building boom on the horizon. Cholera epidemics, fires, and riots swept through the city at various points.

This fascinating interactive map, from Esri, is a snapshot of New York City during the tumultuous time (1836 to be exact), overlaid on the modern-day satellite map.

Getting the Lay of the Land

The base map used above is the stunning “Topographical Map Of The City and County Of New–York, and the adjacent Country”, published by the prodigious mapmaker, Joseph Colton.

For easy viewing, the map’s legend is below:

1836 nyc map legend

This map includes all the usual features, such as roads and prominent buildings, but it also has some clever secondary information built in as well. For one, shading indicates ares that were more built-up at the time. There are also a number of visual techniques to indicate topographical features as well. After all, NYC wasn’t as extensive as it is today, and much of the land depicted in the map is still undeveloped.

The full map is well worth exploring as well, as there are a number of beautiful illustrations throughout.


Tool tip: Click the X on the info bar to hide it. (Mobile: Click the map, then the magnifying glass.)

The Big Picture: New York City in 1836

At this point in time, development in Lower Manhattan extended until about 14th Street, where buildings began to give way to open spaces. The city’s grid pattern was beginning to take shape, following the Commissioners’ Plan laid out in 1811. At the time, New York was anticipating massive growth, and the straightforward grid pattern was an efficient way to prepare the city for rapid expansion.

In the 1800s, fire was an ever-present danger for city dwellers. In fact, a major fire tore through Lower Manhattan a year prior to when this map was published.

great fire nyc 1935 map

Points of Interest

There are a number of points worth visiting on this map.

Transit Begins to Take Shape

In the 1830s, New York City’s first railroad line—horse powered for its first few years—connected Prince Street to the Harlem River, accelerating the city’s expansion northward from Lower Manhattan. This route is still recognizable today as the Harlem Line.

Evolving Shorelines

One very obvious difference between the two maps is how much land has been reclaimed along shorelines in the area. Battery Park City, on the west side of downtown, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard are two prominent examples of infill. Randall’s Island, located near the top of Manhattan, is also an interesting place to observe changes in topography. Randall’s Island is actually made up of three islands that were eventually conjoined in the 1960s.

This interactive map is a great place to explore changes to NYC’s shoreline over time.

Taming the Landscape

Midtown Manhattan is worth zooming into for a couple of reasons. First, the outline of Central Park is visible, although the park would officially be approved until almost 20 years later.

As well, this topographical map clearly shows the numerous outcroppings spread across the island. Manhattan was far from flat in the 1800s, and it took a tremendous amount of effort—starting with gunpowder, pickaxes, and horse-drawn carts—to level the land.

Looking at these historical maps is a reminder that the New York City we know today is the product of hundreds of years of human effort, and that cities continue to evolve over time.

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