The 10 Most Powerful City Destinations

Tokyo skyline with the Tokyo Tower for the New Year (Photo via franckreporter / Getty Images / E+)
Lacey Pfalz
by Lacey Pfalz
Last updated: 5:00 PM ET, Sat January 28, 2023

These Cities are the Most Economically Powerful Destinations in the World

As cities once again reign king as popular destinations around the world, The World Travel & Tourism Council's latest report identified the top ten most powerful city destinations in terms of their tourism industry's contribution to their own economies, using numbers from 2022. From world-famous cities like Paris to entertainment capitals such as Las Vegas, the cities on this list all offer something different, though are heavyweight champions among the tourism industry, often welcoming millions of travelers each year to partake in their unique travel offerings. Check out this slideshow to see the top ten most powerful city destinations in the world.

Paris, France

France itself is expected to become the world's most-visited country by 2025, so it's unsurprising that the City of Light, Paris herself, would be the most powerful city destination in the world. And what's not to love? From the food to the world-famous attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, Paris is on millions of people's bucket lists across the world, from New York City to Seoul and everywhere in between. According to data from WTTC, the city's tourism contributed $35.65 billion to its Gross Domestic Product; the most out of any city in the world in 2022.

Beijing, China

The economic powerhouse of Beijing is also the second most powerful city destination in the world. Its history stretches back three thousand years and is kept alive by popular attractions such as the National Museum of China, the Forbidden City complex, the Temple of Heaven and other attractions. The WTTC puts its tourism economy at $32.62 billion, just under Paris's number, and predicts that this city will become the most powerful city destination by 2032.

Orlando, Florida

Theme parks and cruise ports are just some of the biggest reasons why millions flock to Orlando, Florida each year, making the city the third most powerful destination in the world. Families love traveling to Walt Disney World Resorts or Universal Studios Orlando parks to enjoy family time with the entertainment they love best; whether that be with Disney princesses and Star Wars characters or inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is entirely up to them! In 2022, the city's tourism raked in $31.1 billion. While it's predicted it'll drop to the fourth spot in 2032, it's contribution to the city's GDP is also expected to grow to $45 billion.

Shanghai, China

Another major Chinese city and another economic powerhouse is Shanghai, the city influenced by several European cultures over the past several hundred years. Famous to the city is the Bund, its European-style waterfront area with colonial-era buildings, though other attractions include the Yu Garden, Shanghai Disneyland Park and plenty of other attractions to enjoy. After all, it is the world's third largest city. Shanghai's tourism contributed $29.69 billion in 2022, yet it's expected to be one of the fastest-growing destinations on the planet, rising to second place in 2032 and generating over $70 billion.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Why is Las Vegas on this list, you ask? Because it's Vegas, baby. Joking aside, Las Vegas is an entertainment powerhouse, created for the sole purpose of allowing travelers to let loose, gamble and party to their heart's content. World-famous performers, incredible accommodations, large casinos and trendy restaurants all contribute to the reason why Las Vegas is the fifth most powerful destination in the world, contributing just under $30 billion to the city's GDP. It's expected to remain in its fifth place seat of recognition over the next decade.

New York City, New York

New York City attracts millions from all over the world not just to live and work, but also to play and travel. From world-famous museums and performing arts to architectural gems like Central Park and the Empire State Building, it's no wonder the Big Apple is a tourism hotspot and sixth on the list. New York's tourism earned $21.09 billion in 2022, and it's expected to fall to seventh place, its contribution to the GDP still growing to $34.28 billion by 2032.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan is the world's largest city by population and attracts millions more each year to experience the Japanese capital city's unique blend of hyper-modern progress and traditional culture. It's ranked eighth on this list for 2022, earning $17.97 billion in tourism for itself, though this number is likely lower because of its pandemic-era travel restrictions. It's expected to fall down to tenth place by 2032, though travelers from around the world will continue visiting this city unlike any other.

Mexico City, Mexico

The storied capital of Mexico, Mexico City is home to a thriving arts and culture scene, great food and plenty of historical landmarks to enjoy, such as the Temploy Mayor, an Aztec archaeological site, besides its status as an economic hub. It currently ranks eighth in the world, its tourism contributing $16.76 billion to the city's GDP. In ten years time, however, the WTTC predicts it will fall below the top ten most powerful city destinations in rank.

London, England

Global economic and cultural hub of London, England has been around for over two thousand years and has more than enough cultural and historical attractions for the discerning traveler. Today, it's home to a large multicultural society and attracts millions visiting popular music and movie sites, historical landmarks, cultural icons and more. It's currently ranked as the ninth most powerful destination in the world and earned $14.92 billion last year, though, like Mexico City, it's expected to drop off the top ten list by 2032.

Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou, perhaps not a popular destination for American travelers, is the tenth most powerful city destination. Located in mainland China just west of Hong Kong on the Pearl River, this sprawling city is home to many architectural gems, such as the modern, nearly spaceship-like Guangzhou Opera House. Like many of China's largest cities, it also boasts thousands of years of history as an important port city and as one beginning of the legendary Silk Road, a trade route which connected the East to the West before modern globalization. Today, its tourism generates $13.15 billion for the city, by 2032 it is predicted this will grow to just under $35 billion, rising to sixth place.

These destinations are heavy-hitters in the tourism industry, generating billions towards their economies.

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