Mastercard's annual Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI) harevealed that the region’s five most popular destinations for international travellers welcomed over one-fifth of overnight visitors to the region’s 161 tourist destinations in 2018.

Last year, Asia Pacific hosted 342.2 million overnight international arrivals, representing a compound annual growth rate of 8.9 percent since 2009. Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, and Seoul took the lion's share of the region's visitor nights, with 22 percent of guests staying in these five cities.

For international travellers in 2018, Auckland and Queenstown were the two most popular destinations in New Zealand, ranking 47th and 66th in the region respectively, followed by Christchurch (75th). Visitors stay in Auckland an average of 13.8 nights, while visitors to Queenstown stay an average of 8.1 nights, and 6.7 nights when visiting Christchurch.

Wellington ranked 107th on the most-visited list, beating the other New Zealand destinations for the highest average daily spend by at least US$60. Traveller spending ranged from US$128 per traveller per day in Auckland to US$200 in Wellington. Regions like Tauranga, Queenstown, Waikato, West Coast and Southland receive US$135 average daily spend per traveller, with Christchurch slightly higher at US$140.

“Inbound travel brings significant opportunities to all New Zealand businesses and the communities they support. Implementing systems and practices to maximise spend for the short time visitors are here is key, particularly with major international events such as the America’s Cup and the 2020 cruise season kicking off soon,” said Ruth Riviere, country manager, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, Mastercard.

“Travellers visiting New Zealand expect a premium experience, one that needs to begin when they start their research online and continue right through to their on-the-ground purchases. Businesses that offer a premium experience are more likely to receive both traveller visits and recommendations. It is evident that the regions profiting most from travel and tourism are those where visitors spend across the board from accommodation to food and beverage to shopping.”

According to this year’s APDI, travel spending in Asia Pacific more than doubled over a nine-year period, rising from US$117.6 billion in 2009 to US$281.1 billion in 2018.

The APDI is a regional subset of Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI). More information on the full GDCI report can be found here.