London, June 11 (CNA) Taipei retained 20th place for the second consecutive year in an annual report published Monday by MasterCard Worldwide on visitor traffic and cross-border travel spending in 132 destination cities throughout the world.
Chinese visitors were the key factor in Taipei's top-20 ranking in the 2012 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, said Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, an economic advisor with MasterCard Worldwide who compiled the report.
Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a city with potential and abundant cultural and historic heritage, he told CNA.
Taiwan's decision to open its doors in 2008 to Chinese visitors for sightseeing after decades of restrictions has proved effective because many Chinese people are curious about Taiwan and want to know more about the island, he said.
Chinese visitors can also help in the development of Taiwan's enterprises, particularly small business, he said, advising that Taiwan lift all restrictions on visits by Chinese nationals.
He also suggested that Taiwan expand its investments in the tourism sector to improve airport and other transportation facilities and thus attract more international travelers.
In the global destination cities report, Taipei ranked 13th in terms of international visitor expenditure, which is forecast to rise 20.5 percent from last year to US$10.5 billion in 2012.
Taipei was ahead of Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai in that index.
London was ranked as the world's top destination city for the second year running, with Paris, Bangkok, Singapore, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Madrid, Dubai, Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur rounding out the top 10.
Seoul, Rome, New York, Shanghai, Barcelona, Milan, Amsterdam, Vienna, Beijing and Taipei were ranked 11th to 20th in that order.
Hedrick-Wong said London remained at the top because of its world renowned museums, restaurants, and musical and cultural performances. Ease of doing business is also one of the factors that contributed to London's ranking as the best destination in the world, he said.
In the Asia-Pacific region, international visitor volume is forecast to rise 9.5 percent from last year to 77.6 million people in 2012, while the visitor expenditure is projected to grow by 15.3 percent to US$104.7 billion, according to the report.
(By Jennifer Huang and Elizabeth Hsu)