Prague is 20th most-visited city in the world

An index tracking foreign visitors shows the Czech capital ranks high but has slow growth

Prague is the 20th most visited city in the world, according to the 2016 Global Destination Cities Index by Mastercard, falling one place from the previous index.

The index tracks foreign tourists with at least one overnight stay in 132 cities worldwide, and compares the data to previous years. Prague has an estimated 5.81 million visitors in the 2016 survey, compared with 5.47 million for the previous year's index. But even though there was a 1.5 percent increase in visits, Prague dropped from 19th to 20th place because Shanghai overtook it, jumping into 19th place with 6.12 million visitors.

Asia dominates the chart, with 11 out of the 20 cities. It also takes the top spot with Bangkok, at 21.47 million visitors. London, which was number one last year, fell to second place, with 19.88 million visitors.

No cities in Africa or Australia made the chart. New York was the only city in North or South America to rank. It was number 5, with 12.75 million visitors. Los Angeles, which had been 20th in 2015, dropped off the 2016 chart.

For Prague, some 87.2 percent of foreign visitors came for leisure, and 12.8 percent came for business. June and July were the peak months for visits. Accommodation took about 29.2 percent of spending, followed by 27.4 percent on food and beverages, 25.5 on shopping, 13.2 percent on local services and 4.8 percent on local transport. Visitors spent some USD 2.7 billion in Prague during the time tracked for the 2016 index. Spending excludes air travel.

Prague did not rank in the top 20 global cities or top 10 European cities for visitor spending. Dubai led the global chart with USD 31.3 billion spent by 15.3 million visitors. London had the highest spending in Europe, with USD 19.76 billion from 19.9 million visitors. Berlin was in 20th place worldwide and seventh in Europe at USD 5.00 billion from 4.9 million visitors.

Shanghai had the highest percentage of business visitors, at 54.6 percent, while Istanbul had the highest number of leisure visitors at 90.8 percent.

No cities in Europe made the list of top 20 fastest growing destination cities with at least 1 million visitors. Osaka, Japan, led that list with an annual growth rate of 24.15 percent.

While Prague ranked high on the global list for total visits, it is not among the top 10 cities in Europe in terms of growth in visits. Hamburg was up 8.7 percent over the previous year, followed by Berlin, up 8.0 percent, and Istanbul, up 7.8 percent. For the CEE region, Budapest showed the highest growth, at 7.2 percent, followed by Bucharest at 7.1 percent. In Europe, most of the fastest growing cities were not in the top 10 for visitation.

Data used for the index is based for the most part of government and tourism board statistics, with 10 cities based on estimates since official data was unavailable.

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