By Narayan Ammachchi
A group of ten popular Latin American cities are projected to receive over 15 million international visitors this year, according to a study conducted by the e-payment service provider MasterCard.
These visitors are estimated to spend US$ 14.7 billion by the end of this year, and over half of this spend will be in just three cities: Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Mexico City.
Topping the list is Mexico City with 3.1 million international visitor arrivals estimated for 2013, followed by Buenos Aires (2.6 million), São Paulo (2.4 million), Lima (1.8 million), San Jose (1.4 million), Rio de Janeiro (1.4 million), Bogota (0.9 million), Montevideo (0.7 million), Quito (0.6 million) and Caracas (0.5 million).
The lineup of top ten destination cities in Latin America for 2013 has, however, minor differences from 2012.
According to Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Global Economic Advisor for MasterCard and author of the report, the ranking will likely change in upcoming years as some cities grow faster than others.
“Lima is gaining traction as the fastest-growing city in terms of international visitor arrivals at 12.7 percent, followed by São Paulo at 10.7 percent in 2013. São Paulo could surpass Mexico City and Buenos Aires in 2017 and Lima could overtake Buenos Aires in 2018,” says Hedrick-Wong.
Lima and Rio de Janeiro are also among the top 20 global destination cities with the fastest growth rates in international visitor arrival, with 79.7% and 59.6% growth respectively.
Given the report, Latin Americans are traveling mostly to the United States. Miami is expected to receive 992,000 visitors from São Paulo, Caracas and Buenos Aires in 2013. Travelers from São Paulo alone will spend US$941 million in Miami, says MasterCard.
New York will receive an estimated 733,000 visitors from Sao Paulo and 393,000 from Buenos Aires in 2013, with an estimated spend of US$ 2.4 billion.
The top five U.S. cities from where people catch flights destined to Latin America are Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas.