What is it about the French capital that makes one fall hopelessly in love with it? Is it the chic and effortless style or the decadent coffee, pastries, and vintage wines? Or perhaps the art of ‘flaneuring’? Or is it the Parisian café culture, ingrained in the city’s identity, along with its iconic architecture and haute couture?

The city has been romanticized by artists from all kinds of genres and is at the heart of innovations in fashion, architecture, art, gastronomy and tourism. As far as travel attractions go, Paris has its pockets full. 

So it comes as no surprise that the French capital is the most popular city destination in the world, according to a new study from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Though Beijing is expected to surpass it by 2032.

The study, which was sponsored by Visa and conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, examined significant data on the GDP contribution of travel and tourism as well as employment and traveller spending. As nations closed their borders in reaction to the pandemic, COVID-19 had a devastating effect on travel and tourism, particularly in major cities around the world. Many leisure travellers switched from visiting cities to less-populated locations like coastal and rural destinations as borders reopened, but new research from WTTC indicates that city vacations are returning and becoming more popular.

 “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,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO. “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.”

The other cities on the WTTC list include:

Shanghai

Shanghai’s travel and tourism industry, which was over $30 billion last year, is expected to more than double to around $71 billion by 2032, making it the second most influential metropolitan destination in the world.

Orlando

The travel and tourism industry in Orlando, which is sometimes referred to as the “theme park capital of the world,” was valued at $31 billion in 2022. However, forecasts indicate that it will rise by about 50% to $45 billion by 2032, which would cause it to fall to fourth place among all cities.

Las Vegas

The only city in the top 10 list that maintains its ranking, remaining as the 5th most popular city destination, is Las Vegas. The travel and tourism industry in Las Vegas was valued close to $23 billion last year, and by 2032, it is expected to reach over $36 billion.

Warsaw

The Polish capital of Warsaw, which experienced a 14.4% increase in its GDP contribution in 2022 compared to 2019, is one of several cities outside the top 10 that are exhibiting potential growth as developing destinations.

Top 10 Cities Based on Direct Travel & Tourism GDP in real terms for 2022

1.    Paris        –    $35.65BN
2.    Beijing        –    $32.62BN
3.    Orlando    –    $31.1BN
4.    Shanghai    –    $29.69BN
5.    Las Vegas    –    $22.99BN
6.    New York    –    $21.09BN
7.    Tokyo        –    $17.97BN
8.    Mexico City    –    $16.76BN
9.    London    –    $14.92BN
10.  Guangzhou    –    $13.15BN

Top 10 Cities Based on Predicted Direct Travel & Tourism GDP in real terms for 2032

1.    Beijing        –    $77.28BN (up one place from 2022)
2.    Shanghai    –    $70.88BN (up two places from 2022)
3.    Paris        –    $49.15BN (down two places from 2022)
4.    Orlando    –    $45BN (down one place from 2022)
5.    Las Vegas    –    $36.55BN (no change from 2022)
6.    Guangzhou    –    $34.94BN (up four places from 2022)
7.    New York    –    $34.28BN (down one place from 2022)
8.    Macau        –    $33.33BN (up four places from 2022)
9.    Bangkok    –    $31.52BN (up eight places from 2022)
10.  Tokyo        –    $29.94BN (down three places from 2022)

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