10 most popular cities for travelers in 2016

Story highlights

  • Annual list ranks global cities by numbers of projected visitors
  • London's two-year reign has been brought to an end

(CNN)Bangkok's back!

The Thai capital has bounced to the top of an annual list of the world's most popular travel destinations after spending several years in the wilderness (of second place).
    Its return to the throne came at a cost to London which, after occupying pole position for two years, is trading places with its Asian rival.
    Bangkok is projected to host 21.47 million "international overnight visitors" this year, according to the 2016 report by financial services corporation MasterCard.
    That figure is more than two times the city's population of about 10 million.
    Bangkok's 2014-15 fall from the top was largely put down to political instability in recent years. Its return comes despite 11 bombings in August that hit five provinces in a day and left at least four dead and dozens including foreigners injured.
    But there's no escaping Bangkok's allure: a vibrant urban and culinary scene and proximity to some of the world's most beautiful beaches and islands.

    How the jet-set spends its money

    London, meanwhile, is expected to welcome 18.88 million visitors this year.
    Paris, another city still feeling the aftershocks of brutal attacks, is in third place with 18.03 million forecast visitors.
    MasterCard says its index reflects the interconnectedness of major global cities and tracks the ways in which business and leisure jet-setters spend their money.
    Ranked fourth with 15.27 million visitors, Dubai "made a quantum leap to become the global top-ranked" in visitor spending, the report says.
    Based on a new estimate provided by the government of Dubai, its visitor pending of $31.3 billion this year far exceeds London's estimated $19.8 billion, which comes second.
    And how's the cash being spent?
    According to the index, tourists are "spending overwhelmingly" to shop -- and not to dine -- in the top 20 destinations outside of Europe, despite many of them being world-famous cuisine capitals.
    In Europe, however, tourists in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Istanbul, Milan, Paris, Prague and Vienna, are doling out cash for their meals.
    The report also ranks the top 20 fastest-growing cities between 2009 and 2016, with Japan's Osaka topping the charts with a 24.15% annual growth rate over those seven years, followed by Chengdu in China's Sichuan province at 20.14%, and Abu Dhabi at 19.81%.

    MasterCard's ranking of the top 10 destination cities in 2016

    1. Bangkok, Thailand -- 21.47 million visitors
    2. London, England -- 19.88 million visitors
    3. Paris, France -- 18.03 million visitors
    4. Dubai, UAE -- 15.27 million visitors
    5. New York, USA -- 12.75 million visitors
    6. Singapore -- 12.11 million visitors
    7. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- 12.02 million visitors
    8. Istanbul, Turkey -- 11.95 million visitors
    9. Tokyo, Japan -- 11.70 million visitors
    10. Seoul, South Korea -- 10.20 million visitors

    MasterCard's ranking of the fastest-growing cities in 2016

    1. Osaka, Japan -- 24.15%
    2. Chengdu, China -- 20.14%
    3. Abu Dhabi, UAE -- 19.81%
    4. Colombo, Sri Lanka -- 19.57%
    5. Tokyo, Japan -- 18.48%
    6. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia -- 16.45%
    7. Taipei, Taiwan -- 14.53%
    8. Xi'an, China -- 14.20%
    9. Tehran, Iran -- 12.98%
    10. Xiamen, China -- 12.93%