London will fall down the global city destination rankings in the next seven years, slipping from third to sixth, according to research for World Travel Market London.
Hong Kong is the top city for international arrivals, with more than 26 million visitors in 2016, followed by the Thai capital Bangkok with just over 21 million, London is third, with just over 19 million, reveals the top 100 City Destination Ranking WTM London Edition, by Euromonitor International.
However, the surge in travel to Asian cities means London will be overtaken in the coming years by Singapore, Macau and Dubai, while Hong Kong and Bangkok will remain by far the most-visited cities.
By 2025, international arrivals to Hong Kong will reach almost 45 million, followed by Bangkok at 40 million.
Singapore will be third (30 million); Macau fourth (27 million); Dubai fifth (26 million) and London will be sixth with just over 25 million.
The report noted London was second until recently, when it was surpassed by Bangkok.
The report said: “Asia Pacific is the standout region that has driven change in the travel landscape over the past decade, and is expected to continue doing so in the coming decade.
“In 2010, 34 cities from Asia Pacific were present in our Top 100 Ranking.
“This jumped to 41 cities in 2017, and is expected to grow to 47 cities in 2025.
“The impact of inter-Asian travel (predominantly from China) in particular cannot be underestimated.”
However, it noted: “The travel industry in Europe has been hampered by several events in recent years, including the Eurozone crisis, Brexit, the migrant crisis and terrorist attacks in a number of countries.”
Globally, London is by far the biggest city in Europe for inbound arrivals – Paris is seventh (14 million), Rome 12th (9.3 million) and Istanbul 15th (9.1 million) on the worldwide rankings.
Despite the terrorist attacks in London during 2017, the British capital will continue to show healthy growth of more than three per cent in 2017, said the report.
The city has been running the #LondonIsOpen campaign to ensure leisure and business travellers continue to visit.
Another challenge for London will be Brexit, and the city’s attractiveness for business services will be under pressure after the UK leaves the European Union.
“Brexit threatens to undermine London’s dominant position for ease of doing business and its attractiveness as a start-up hub,” warned the report.
“Competing cities that have emerged to steal its crown include Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, Stockholm, Dublin and Amsterdam, based on transport connections, diversity and creative spirit.”
The report also highlights the dominance of London in the UK market, as more than half of the 35.6 million arrivals in 2016 visited the capital.
World Travel Market London, senior director, Simon Press, said: “The report we have produced with Euromonitor International gives a fascinating global perspective on the trends we’re seeing in the travel trade.
“The massive influx of Chinese travellers visiting cities across Asia will push European cities such as London down the rankings.
“But London is still predicted to grow continuously over the coming years and – like many destinations – it faces challenges about how to cope with that growth.
“This report examines the range of problems and the opportunities faced by Londoners, including transport, congestion and economic issues.”