Story highlights

Japanese cities benefited from the popularity of 'the Golden Route'

Asia took three of the top five spots on the 100-city ranking

CNN  — 

All over the world, people are making more flights to more places than ever before.

But two Asian cities, according to a new report by market researcher Euromonitor International, are welcoming more visitors than any other destination.

For the seventh year in a row, Hong Kong topped Euromonitor’s annual Top 100 City Destinations survey, welcoming an impressive 26.69 million visitors in 2015, its latest figures.

Despite this, arrivals to Hong Kong were down overall, which Euromonitor attributes to a drop in younger visitors from mainland China.

Hong Kong’s loss was Bangkok’s gain.

In 2015, Thailand’s capital city attracted 18.7 million overseas visitors, rocketing it to the No.2 slot and pushing London down to third place.

Euromonitor’s list is compiled from data from 57 “core” countries, using national statistics and info from airports, hotels and other tourism industry sources.

While the company says that 2015 was another turbulent year globally–with terrorist attacks, geopolitical conflicts, economic uncertainty and health scares including MERS and Zika affecting tourists’ decisions–the top 100 city destinations registered growth of 55% in international arrivals compared to 2014.

This, Euromonitor says, is testament to the resilience of the world’s top global cities as travel destinations.

Japan strikes gold with Golden Route

Japan was one of the year’s biggest success stories.

Thanks to the popularity of the country’s Golden Route, which sees overseas tourists arrive in Tokyo and travel to Kyoto and Osaka via Mount Fuji, Tokyo rose six places to rank 17th, and Osaka and Kyoto leaped 27 and 11 places, respectively.

In Europe, London slipped to third place in the rankings, although visitor numbers – at 18.58 million – were up 7%, boosted in part by England hosting the Rugby World Cup in September 2015.

Milan also performed strongly, with a 17.9% increase in visitors, thanks to the Expo Milan 2015.

Paris was hit by the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan attacks in 2015, although the impact on visitor numbers was minimal. Euromonitor predicts that the 2016 numbers will see a bigger dip.

In the Americas, Rio de Janeiro, in the year sandwiched between its World Cup and Olympics mega-events, dropped out of the 2015 rankings altogether.

Meanwhile, Cancun, Mexico’s top city destination, dropped in the rankings despite a boom in Mexico tourism overall.

Euromonitor attributes the drop to other Mexican destinations being heavily promoted to business and leisure travelers, such as Playa del Carmen.

In the Middle East, 2015 saw strong growth in the number of religious tourists to Mecca – 7.18 million international visitors arrived in the city, an increase of 17.2%.

Click through the above gallery to see the top 25 most visited cities.