MasterCard recently released its findings from this year’s Global Destination Cities Index, which looks at the flux of total international overnight visitors to 132 of the “most important” cities around the globe. The top tourist destinations are somewhat unsurprising – London, UK was the top-ranked city, with 18.82 million international visitors expected in 2015. Interestingly, five Asian countries made it into the top 10, including Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, and Hong Kong.
What’s perhaps more interesting is the study’s ranking of the world’s fastest growing destination cities from 2009 to 2015. According to cumulative annual growth rates, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Chengdu, China, and Abu Dhabi, UAE are the world’s fastest growing destination cities. Below, we’ve put together brief guides for these on-the-rise metropolises.
Colombo, Sri Lanka (1st fastest growing tourist city)
Colombo used to be an intermediary for travelers getting to the southern Sri Lankan coast, but is quickly becoming an attraction in itself. Once known as “the garden city of the East,” the city is more cosmopolitan now than ever. The presence of the Indian Ocean lends a laidback, tropical vibe, and there’s an interesting display of architecture dating back to the city’s period of Dutch colonization.
Must-Sees and Dos:
- Galle Face Green: This is a stretch of lawn with sea views, where people congregate to relax, jog, and fly kites. Grab a tasty bite at one of the food vendors, and be sure to stay and watch the sunset.
- The Colombo National Museum: If you’re a history buff, you’ll love this museum’s collection of ancient artworks dating back to the 4th century BCE. Interesting items include royal thrones, palm leaves inscribed in Sanskrit, and antique demon masks.
- Seema Malaka Temple: Geoffrey Bawa, one of Sri Lanka’s prominent architects, designed this modern temple. Many praise its elegant simplicity and array of stunning Buddha statues; its placement atop a lake lends a calming effect.