ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Bangkok is top Asian tourist draw
Globally, the capital is the third-most-popular destination among air travellers and comes fourth in terms of visitor spending.
About 11.5 million air travellers are expected to visit Bangkok and spend US$14.4 billion (Bt436 billion) this year.
However, contrary to the popular perception that most visitors to Thailand are thrifty backpackers, it is estimated that Bangkok's expenditure per visitor is $1,252, which is ranked third globally after New York ($2,671) and London ($1,274).
The estimates are based on findings in a research programme by MasterCard Worldwide called the "Index of Global Destination Cities", covering 132 cities around the world with the potential of being "centres of commerce" for regional and global economies.
The author of the report, Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, said the findings showed that Thailand's political conflict over the past five years, which turned deadly last year, had only a temporary impact on the country's status as a preferred destination among international travellers.
Visitors appear to have kept coming to the capital despite the political unrest, he said during a meeting with a group of Asean journalists in Singapore on Monday.
Hedrick-Wong, a Canadian, is global economic adviser at MasterCard Worldwide and visiting professor of international business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Most visitors to Bangkok travel from Asia, with those from Singapore the largest group among the 10 top origin cities at an estimated 869,000 visitors, followed by Hong Kong (822,000), and Tokyo (711,000).
London, Frankfurt and Sydney are also among the top 10 origin cities for visitors to Bangkok.
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