New research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed that Paris is currently the world’s most powerful city. However, it predicts that it is likely to be overtaken by Beijing by 2032.

Paris is often tagged as the most beautiful city in the world but, it is now also the most powerful city destination, according to a survey conducted by the World Tourism and Travel Council, WTTC. The report, sponsored by Visa and researched in partnership with Oxford Economics, analysed key indicators such as Travel & Tourism’s contribution to GDP, employment and traveller spend.

Covid-19 had a devastating impact on Travel & Tourism and in particular major cities around
the world as countries closed their borders in response to the pandemic. As borders reopened, many leisure travellers swapped city visits for less-populated destinations such as coastal and rural destinations, but latest research from WTTC shows that city holidays are back and growing in popularity.

Paris takes the crown as the world’s most powerful city destination with a Travel & Tourism sector worth almost $36 billion (€33bn) in 2022, in terms of direct GDP contribution to the city. Over the next 10 years, WTTC predicts it will drop down to third place, although its value will rise to over $49bn.

Beijing is currently the second biggest city destination in the world with a Travel & Tourism sector worth nearly $33bn. However, the WTTC predicts it will leapfrog Paris to claim the top spot within the next 10 years, with its sector value estimated to grow to a staggering $77bn.

Often dubbed the theme park capital of the world, Orlando’s Travel & Tourism sector was valued at $31bn in 2022, but despite predictions suggesting it will grow by almost 50% to $45bn by 2032, it will drop down to become the fourth biggest city destination.

Top 10 Cities Based on Direct Travel & Tourism GDP in real terms for 2022 (in billion)
1. Paris – US$35.65
2. Beijing – $32.62
3. Orlando – $31.1
4. Shanghai – $29.69
5. Las Vegas – $22.99
6. New York – $21.09
7. Tokyo – $17.97
8. Mexico City – $16.76
9. London – $14.92
10. Guangzhou – $13.15


The inexorable rise of Chinese cities

China’s national Travel & Tourism sector has seen phenomenal growth over the last decade as the country has invested in new hotels, transport infrastructure and new tourist destinations. This investment in Travel & Tourism sees Shanghai’s sector, worth nearly $30billion last year, predicted to more than double to almost $71bn by 2032, to become the world’s second most powerful city destination.

Las Vegas is the only city in the top 10 list which holds its place, firmly staying as the 5th largest city destination. Last year, Las Vegas’s Travel & Tourism sector was worth nearly $23bn and is predicted to grow to over $36bn by 2032.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Major cities such as London, Paris and New York will remain global powerhouses but over the next few years, Beijing, Shanghai and Macau will be moving up the list of top city destinations. Tourists will always have favourite cities that they will return to, but as other countries prioritise Travel & Tourism, we are going to see new and emerging destinations challenging the traditional favourites.”

Other cities outside the top 10 showing promising growth as emerging destinations include Warsaw which has seen a 14.4% increase in its GDP contribution in 2022 versus 2019.

Beijing could become the most powerful city destination in 2032 according to WTTC (Photo: LC/Cleverdis)

Sanya, the Chinese coastal city which has become a popular tourist destination in recent years as holidaymakers visited its beaches witnessed a 10.2% growth during that same period. Its Travel & Tourism sector represents an incredible 43.6% of the city’s total economy. Macau’s Travel & Tourism sector represents 40.4% of the city’s total economy.

Orlando and Las Vegas are the only cities currently in the top 10 most powerful city destinations based on the sector’s value, which rely heavily on the sector as a share of the city’s overall economy.

Travel & Tourism represents 20.4% of Orlando’s economy and 16.3% of Las Vegas’s economy. In comparison, Paris’s Travel & Tourism sector represents just 3.5% of the capital’s economy in 2022.

The top 10 cities with the biggest international travellers spend in 2022 were (in billion)

1. Dubai – $29.42

2. Doha – $16.79

3. London – $16.07

4. Macau – $15.58

5. Amsterdam – $13.59

6. Istanbul – $13.13

7. Barcelona – $12.73

8- New York – $12.45

9- Singapore – $10.97

10- Paris – $9.76

However, in 2032, WTTC predicts the top 10 cities with biggest international traveller spend will change. It points to a spectacular progression of Asian cities which will appear in 6 positions on a total of 10.

1. Hong Kong – $52.06 (up 38 places from 2022)
2. Macau – $43.14 (up 2 places from 2022)
3. Dubai – $42.98 (down 2 places from 2022)
4. Singapore – $37.43 (up 5 places from 2022)
5. Bangkok – $33.45 (up 7 places from 2022)
6. Doha – $31.63 (down 4 places from 2022)
7. Tokyo $25.44 (up 30 places from 2022)
8. New York $21.73 (no change from 2022)
9. Amsterdam $21.53 (down 4 places from 2022)
10. Shanghai – $21.3 (up 11 places from 2022)

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