By Alison Fox
December 04, 2019

Hong Kong was the most visited city in the world for this year, despite political unrest and massive protests, according to a new report. 

According to the Top 100 City Destinations 2019 report by market research company Euromonitor International, Hong Kong will see about 26.7 million tourists visit by the end of 2019. While that is the most in the world, it is also an 8.7 percent decrease from 2018, when the city saw about 29.3 million visitors.

More than 50 percent of visitors to Hong Kong, one of the world’s most expensive cities, are from mainland China, according to the report.

Hong Kong's Causeway Bay shopping area
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The ranking comes as Hong Kong continues to see widespread protests that have at points turned violent and even briefly shut down the airport. The demonstrations began in June when people took to the streets to protest a proposed bill that would have allowed mainland China to extradite Hong Kong residents to stand trial.

The bill has since been withdrawn as protesters have expanded their grievances to include police brutality as well as demand more democratic reforms.

“The city is expected to maintain its leading position in 2019, despite anti-government protests during the second half of the year negatively impacting inbound arrivals,” the report wrote, adding: “While the city has been traditionally popular for its shopping [centers], Hong Kong is now focusing on highlighting its natural terrain and cultural heritage.”

The second most visited city in the world was Bangkok, which saw 25.8 million visitors cross its borders this year, a 6.9 percent increase from 2018. More than 73 percent of visitors to Bangkok come from Asia Pacific, according to the report.

London, which came in third place, saw a 1.7 percent increase in tourism this year, or about 19.6 million visitors. And New York City, which took the top spot in the U.S. and the No. 8 spot internationally, saw about 14 million visitors this year, or a 3 percent increase from 2018.

The report was based on international tourists who visited another country for at least 24 hours in 2018, and excluded domestic visitors, same-day visitors, people in transit and cruise passengers.

And while tourism remains an important part of the economy for many cities, the report notes that, “While leading cities have benefited from their own popularity, many destinations are now faced with issues of overcrowding, pollution and transport management” that they have to address.

These are the report’s top 10 most visited cities:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Bangkok
  3. London
  4. Macau
  5. Singapore
  6. Paris
  7. Dubai
  8. New York City
  9. Kuala Lumpur
  10. Istanbul
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