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Why Hong Kong Is the Most Visited City in the World

Picture of Matthew Keegan
Updated: 3 April 2018
Hong Kong has retained its title as the world’s most visited city with 26.6 million visitors in 2017. However, an overwhelming majority of its ‘international tourists’ lie close to home.

Hong Kong has taken the title as the world’s most visited city in Euromonitor’s annual Top 100 City Destinations Ranking. For the eighth consecutive year, Hong Kong has claimed the title of ‘world’s most visited city’ with 26.6 million visitors in 2017.

Hong Kong was followed by Bangkok (21.2 million visitors). Only two European cities, London and Paris, made the top ten and there was only one US entry – New York. Overall, Asian cities dominated the top spots, which analysts say is due to the huge rise of Chinese outbound tourism.

The top ten most visited cities are:

1. HONG KONG: 26.6 MILLION VISITORS
2. BANGKOK: 21.2 MILLION VISITORS
3. LONDON: 19.2 MILLION VISITORS
4. SINGAPORE: 16.6 MILLION VISITORS
5. MACAU: 15.4 MILLION VISITORS
6. DUBAI: 14.9 MILLION VISITORS
7. PARIS: 14.4 MILLION VISITORS
8. NEW YORK: 12.7 MILLION VISITORS
9. SHENZHEN: 12.6 MILLION VISITORS
10. KUALA LUMPUR: 12.3 MILLION VISITORS

Source: Euromonitor International

In particular, Hong Kong relies heavily on tourists from mainland China. In fact, last year, 76% of all tourists to the city came from the mainland. Since Hong Kong is technically a part of China – it’s debatable whether or not ‘international tourists’ applies.

‘Hong Kong remains the top city in the world as it benefits from its strategic location and relationship with China. However, it saw growth dip in 2017 as relations with mainland China were strained, but growth will pick up again between 2018 and 2025’, said Wouter Geerts, senior analyst at Euromonitor International in a statement.

Despite tourism being one of the main pillars of Hong Kong’s economy, increased tourist numbers, especially from the mainland, have not always been welcomed. Many locals, especially those living in border towns, fear the city is becoming too crowded. On top of this, widely reported incidents of mainland Chinese behaving badly has fuelled hostility towards their presence in the city.

Hong Kong Tourists Crowded Streets
Hong Kong is already considered ‘too crowded’ by locals. | © By Hamedog / Wiki Commons

Meanwhile, local authorities in Hong Kong anticipate that 60 million tourists are expected to visit the city in 2018. The uptick in visitor numbers, especially from the mainland, is expected due to two new cross-border transport links, pegged to open this year, making access between mainland China and Hong Kong even easier.

The first of these transport links will be the world’s longest sea bridge connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macau. The second is an express rail link to Guangzhou. Hong Kong’s Tourism Board executive director Anthony Lau Chun-hon said, in total, 60.6 million people are projected to visit in 2018, with 46.2 million from the mainland.

The Tourism Board has dismissed claims that the city would become too crowded, citing an increased number of hotel rooms and efforts to draw visitors away from traditional tourist hotspots.