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Most expensive cities for international tourists

  • Most expensive cities for international tourists

    International tourism in 2017 (the most recent year for data) was a $1.449 trillion industry, according to the World Bank. That's the highest spike in at least two decades, and it indicates that more and more people are making travel a priority.

    Mastercard recently released its 2018 Global Cities Index, which, among other things, highlights the top travel destinations, how long people are staying in each location, and on average how much money they're spending while they're there. The index covers 162 cities and helps forecast the growth in travel for the upcoming year.

    Using data from this report, which was updated Sept. 25, 2018, Stacker put together a list of the 50 priciest cities for international travelers. We analyzed the Top 10 cities by total international visitors in 2017 for five regions: Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East & Africa. These 50 cities were then ranked by the average amount of money, calculated in U.S. dollars, spent per day in each city, with any ties broken by the average length of visit.

    Whether you're an avid traveler, or simply filled with wanderlust, you're likely to be surprised by some of the cities on this list. From resort towns like Antalya, Turkey, and Cancun, Mexico, to more urban areas like Bangkok, Thailand, and Paris, France, find out why these popular destinations cost so much and how tourists are most likely to spend their hard-earned cash.

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  • #50. Antalya, Turkey

    - Average daily spend: $45
    - Average length of visit: 14.0 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 9.4 million
    - Top countries of origin: Russia (31.7% of arrivals), Germany (22.0% of arrivals), Ukraine (8.4% of arrivals)

    Compared with the #1 city on this list, Antalya, Turkey, is a steal. The ninth-largest city in Turkey and the fourth most visited city in the world, Antalya is located on the Mediterranean coast and is a resort city at its heart. Enriched by over 2,000 years of history and centered around a quaint old quarter, the miles of beaches draw nearly 10 million visitors each year. Foreigners have been snapping up property in this gorgeous beach town over the past few years, which has caused the city to become pricier. Still, average daily expenses for an international traveler are under $50 each day.

  • #49. Johannesburg, South Africa

    - Average daily spend: $48
    - Average length of visit: 10.9 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 4.1 million
    - Top countries of origin: Mozambique (20.0% of arrivals), Lesotho (12.4% of arrivals), Zimbabwe (12.0% of arrivals)

    Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, with an estimated 4.4 million people living there year-round. After gold was discovered in 1886, Johannesburg became a boom town, but apartheid caused the city to lose much of its wealth and luster a century later. Today, tourists are drawn by the city's hip vibe, mild year-round weather and its growing food scene. An exchange rate that heavily favors the U.S. dollar makes this one of the cheapest cities on our list for international visitors.

  • #48. Sao Paulo, Brazil

    - Average daily spend: $61
    - Average length of visit: 10.8 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 1.9 million
    - Top countries of origin: Argentina (17.8% of arrivals), United States (12.6% of arrivals), Chile (7.1% of arrivals)

    Sao Paulo is both a city and a state in Brazil, but it's the city proper that draws the most tourists. Sao Paulo, the city, is home to two soccer teams, the largest gay pride parade in the world, and a road race that draws more than 15,000 runners each year. In addition, 90 museums and 12,500 restaurants give visitors a plethora of options to explore during their stay. The city is wealthy; it ranks on Forbes' list of “top billionaire cities,” which helps make it one of the more expensive cities on the planet for international visitors.

  • #47. Toronto, Canada

    - Average daily spend: $72
    - Average length of visit: 8.2 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 5.1 million
    - Top countries of origin: United States (58.0% of arrivals), China (6.2% of arrivals), United Kingdom (5.1% of arrivals)

    Most famous for its NBA team and rapper Drake, Toronto is the most populous city in Canada. Tourists come to attend the Toronto International Film Festival, visit the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Royal Ontario Museum, or see one of the seven wonders of the modern world, the CN Tower. While the exchange rate favors the U.S. dollar, the hefty tax rate makes this city more expensive than you might imagine.

  • #46. Cape Town, South Africa

    - Average daily spend: $75
    - Average length of visit: 12.5 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 1.7 million
    - Top countries of origin: United Kingdom (14.4% of arrivals), Germany (12.4% of arrivals), United States (10.9% of arrivals)

    Almost 900 miles from Johannesburg, Cape Town is South Africa's other major tourist destination. Table Mountain is the gorgeous city's most iconic landmark, but the miles of beaches, the world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and the Boulders Penguin Colony draw almost two million international visitors each year. There are also large wine tourism and whale-watching industries in the city, making this a hotspot for many adventurous travelers and making the city more expensive than Johannesburg.

  • #45. Santiago, Chile

    - Average daily spend: $83
    - Average length of visit: 10.5 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 2.5 million
    - Top countries of origin: Argentina (27.7% of arrivals), Brazil (18.7% of arrivals), United States (7.2% of arrivals)

    Surrounded by mountains—the Andes on one side, and the Chilean Coastal Range on the other—Santiago, Chile, has a Mediterranean climate, which attracts large numbers of globetrotters each year. The old Plaza de Armas, the bustling La Vega Market, and the nearby wine region, Casablanca, are top tourist spots in the city, but the outdoor activities and the inventive food scene keep people coming back year after year. The U.S. dollar goes far here, but as tourism increases so do prices, making this a relatively expensive city for most international travelers.

  • #44. Vancouver, Canada

    - Average daily spend: $88
    - Average length of visit: 7.8 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 4.3 million
    - Top countries of origin: United States (56.3% of arrivals), China (7.0% of arrivals), Australia (5.6% of arrivals)

    While visitors flock to Toronto for city vacations, they come to Vancouver for outdoor adventures. Surrounded by mountains and the Pacific Ocean, visitors to Vancouver can explore Stanley Park (ranked the best park in the world by TripAdvisor in 2014), the Seawall (part of Seaside Greenway, the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path), and have easy access to a handful of ski resorts. Vancouver has been ranked as the third most-expensive city in the world in which to live, thanks to its astronomical housing prices.

  • #43. Buenos Aires, Argentina

    - Average daily spend: $89
    - Average length of visit: 9.1 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 1.9 million
    - Top countries of origin: Brazil (23.8% of arrivals), Chile (9.7% of arrivals), United States (7.4% of arrivals)

    Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been nicknamed “the Paris of the South.” A charming mix of old-world grandeur and modern minimalism, Buenos Aires boasts a thriving nightlife and some of the world's best food and wine. Visitors can wander cobblestone streets and eat at outdoor cafes in between exploring the Recoleta Cemetery, visiting the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, dancing the tango at one of the city's many dance clubs, and browsing at the San Telmo Market, which dates back to the city's golden era. A dip in the Argentine peso at the end of 2018 may make this city more affordable for international travelers in coming years.

  • #42. Marrakech, Morocco

    - Average daily spend: $94
    - Average length of visit: 4.4 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 3.9 million
    - Top countries of origin: France (25.5% of arrivals), United Kingdom (10.3% of arrivals), Germany (5.4% of arrivals)

    Once an imperial capital, Marrakech, Morocco is the exotic locale of globetrotters' dreams. Striking and colorful, Marrakech's picturesque medieval medina, souks (markets), and legendary main plaza are must stops for travelers. Fodor's placed Marrakech first on its 2018 Go List, describing it as “a dreamy maze of spice-scented streets filled with vendors, cafes, and hidden palaces.” Foreigners like it here so much they've been snapping up property, driving up not only residential prices but commercial rents, which in turn can affect how much tourists spend each day.

  • #41. Polokwane, South Africa

    - Average daily spend: $95
    - Average length of visit: 4.3 days
    - Total international visitors in 2017: 1.9 million
    - Top countries of origin: Zimbabwe (77.7% of arrivals), Botswana (6.9% of arrivals), United States (2.5% of arrivals)

    Off the beaten path for most international travelers, Polokwane, South Africa, is the capital of Limpopo. A buzzing urban city, Polokwane is full of museums, art galleries, jazz clubs, and shopping centers. It's also a gateway city—the stepping stone to mountain ranges, game reserves, and other wilderness areas. Polokwane is a smaller city compared to many others on our list, with under 700,000 year-round residents according to the most recent census, and its more limited options for tourists make this city relatively expensive to visit.

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