Top tourist destinations for 2012 named. Will you be there?

Top tourist destinations for 2012 named. Will you be there?

Olympic fever pushes travel, European and Asian cities dominate list of favored places
For the second consecutive year, London is the world's most popular travel destination.

If you're planning to visit London this summer, you won't be the only one.

You probably figured that already.

You might not have known, however, that some 16.9 million visitors from around the world will descend upon the 2012 Olympic city, making it the planet's top travel destination this year, according to the Worldwide Index of Global Destination Cities issued by MasterCard this week. 

The Summer Olympics will run from July 27 to August 12.

The index is based on international flight-capacity information provided by aviation data provider OAG Global. 

With 16 million visitors expected, Paris placed second on the list.

Bangkok and Singapore once again are the fast-growing contenders from the Asia-Pacific region, with 12.2 million and 11.8 million visitors respectively.  

Money talks. And travels

London will also attract the highest international visitor spend at US$21.1 billion, the highest among 132 cities for two consecutive years.

More on CNNGo: Most expensive hotel cities revealed

“As our fantastic Diamond Jubilee celebrations demonstrated, London knows how to throw a party and, as we prepare to host the greatest Games the world has ever seen, it is no surprise our capital is the top choice for tourists," London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a statement. 

If you want to impress your Facebook followers, you'll have to do better the other 16.9 million. Following London in the visitor spend category is New York City, with US$19.4 billion. Yet the city ranks just 13th in number of visitors, with 7.6 million.  

Meanwhile, the fastest growing destination city by visitor numbers turns out to be Rio de Janeiro, with a growth rate of 28.6 percent, followed by the quickly recovering Tokyo, with 21.5 percent, and Quito, Ecuador, with 18.8 percent. 

The report adds that total visitor numbers and cross-border spending is expected to increase by 5.7 percent and 10.6 percent respectively for the top 20 destination cities in 2012.

‘‘In spite of a challenging global economic backdrop, this year’s Index projects that there are hot spots of robust growth around the globe, in terms of both international visitor arrivals and expenditure," said Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor for MasterCard Worldwide and the author of the report. 

"With a new generation of international travelers from emerging markets flocking to the world’s top destinations, global cities continue to represent an important engine of growth," he said. 

That means that it'll likely get harder to find that one-of-a-kind photo to post on Facebook or Instagram.

Especially in London.  

Top 20 destinations in 2012

  1. London (16.9 million visitors)
  2. Paris (16 million)
  3. Bangkok (12.2 million)
  4. Singapore (11.8 million)
  5. Istanbul (11.6 million)
  6. Hong Kong (11.1 million)
  7. Madrid (9.7 million)
  8. Dubai (8.8 million)
  9. Frankfurt (8.1 million)
  10. Kuala Lumpur (8.1 million)
  11. Seoul (8 million)
  12. Rome (7.8 million)
  13. New York (7.6 million)
  14. Shanghai (7.5 million)
  15. Barcelona (7.3 million)
  16. Milan (7.1 million)
  17. Amsterdam (6.9 million)
  18. Vienna (6.7 million)
  19. Beijing (6.2 million)
  20. Taipei (5.4 million)

Top 20 fastest growing destinations in 2012

  1. Rio de Janeiro (28.6 percent growth rate)
  2. Tokyo (21.5 percent)
  3. Quito (18.8 percent)
  4. Abu Dhabi (17.9 percent)
  5. Tunis (17.7 percent)
  6. Dubai (15.3 percent)
  7. Taipei (15.1 percent)
  8. Istanbul (14.7 percent)
  9. Beijing (14.7 percent)
  10. Bogota (12.6 percent)
  11. Lima (11.7 percent)
  12. Riyadh (10.4 percent)
  13. Nairobi (10 percent)
  14. Singapore (9.9 percent)
  15. Seoul (9.8 percent)
  16. Cairo (8.3 percent)
  17. Shanghai (8.2 percent)
  18. Toronto (7.6 percent)
  19. Washington, D.C. (7.2 percent)
  20. Caracas (7 percent )

Rachel Sang-hee Han is a freelance writer for CNN Travel. 

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