Introducing Future Cities:
Preparing for the New Age of Urban Mobility

Taking insights from the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index 2015, Skift and MasterCard are joining forces on Future Cities, a series exploring how major destinations are preparing for the new age of urban mobility. From connected infrastructure to smart technologies, together we explore how global cities are creating seamless and personalized experiences for visitors and residents.

For the first time ever, 50% of the world’s population are living in cities. By 2050, the number of city dwellers will rise by 2.5 billion to 6.3 billion, according to the UN, roughly two-thirds of the world’s population.

This proposes a unique challenge for cities around the globe. How do you create an attractive and sustainable environment as more people than ever move around within and between urban centers?

The answer is to create smarter cities. Cities that are integrating technology and streamlining how they communicate with their citizens in real-time. Cities that are promoting mass transit and building fast, driverless transportation systems that users can access with the tap of a card or phone. Cities that are curating unique experiences  with both residents and travelers in mind.

The Future Cities series seeks to uncover some of the most forward-thinking destinations, profiling the places that are building the cities of the future in 2015 and beyond.

Global Destination Cities Index 2015

Launched in 2011, MasterCard’s Global Destinations Cities Index uses data points going back to 2009 on 132 of the most important cities in the world to map how human connectivity is changing through air travel – how international visitors arrive at these cities; and how much travelers are spending during their visit. Over the last five years since the index launched the data gathered demonstrates trends in the expansion of air travel, rising discretionary spending in emerging markets where the middle class is expanding and overall growing interest from all people to travel the world.

For 2015, London has again retained its spot as top-ranked international travel destination for fifth time in the last seven years in this year’s Index ahead of Bangkok, Paris, Dubai, and Istanbul.

“This year’s study helps us understand just how interconnected the world’s cities are and what powerful engines for economic growth they have become,” said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, MasterCard.

“The Global Destination Cities Index delivers insights into the significant role cities play in connecting and empowering greater numbers of people than ever before. Through a powerful combination of insights, innovation and experiences, MasterCard is focused on building the smart cities of the future.”

Across the globe, a few trends stood out:

  • Asia/Pacific – The region is home to three of the top four fastest-growing destination cities between 2009 and 2015 – Colombo, Chengdu and Osaka.
  • Europe – Istanbul is the most diversified destination, with 50 percent of its international overnight visitors coming from 33 feeder cites.
  • Latin America – Lima is both the top destination and the fastest growing city in the region, featuring almost 50 percent more international overnight visitors than second-ranked Mexico City.
  • Middle East and Africa – Dubai continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the global top ten while Abu Dhabi is the third fastest growing destination city overall between 2009 and 2015.
  • North America – Houston is the fastest growing in North America since 2009 and is the only destination city in North America with double-digit growth.

Download MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index 2015
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Future Cities: What can you expect?

In the coming weeks, we’ll be profiling some of the world’s most forward-thinking global cities, from Dubai to Singapore, Rio De Janeiro to Amsterdam, through video animations, in-depth articles, infographics, and podcasts. Sign up to be alerted when new Future Cities content is up and join in on the discussion on Twitter with #SkiftFutureCities.