Top hotspots of 2012

Although 2012 may have followed several tough years for many of us. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), more travellers than ever set off abroad. Figures show that global tourism grew between 3.5% and 4% in 2012. In fact the number of tourists who crossed international borders last year reached an amazing 1billion!

Hagia Sophia Cathedral
Istanbul, Turkey

Here are some of 2012’s 20 top hotspots from Forbes:


Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul was cited as the fastest growing visitor attraction last year. Situated on the Bosphorus, with its skyline of domes and minarets, many today consider it the heart of Turkey. The new part of the city boasts hip bars and clubs, malls and haute cuisine.


London’s calling…

Forbes’ research confirmed that London was the most popular city, attracting over 16.9m visitors who spent around £13.1bn. This probably doesn’t come as a shock knowing the meteoric attraction of the capital’s 2012 summer of sport. Visitors from New York, whether drawn by business or pleasure, are the ones that tend to spend the most in the capital.


Madrid, Rome and Frankfurt

Many consider Barcelona to out-charm Madrid, yet Spain’s capital remains an incredibly popular destination especially because Madrid has beautiful hotels, according to the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Spain.The organisation also revealed that Spain received over 55m foreign tourists last year, topping the 2011 figure by nearly 3%. Many visit Madrid for its history and architecture.> Meanwhile, Rome slipped in popularity, falling below Frankfurt and Dubai. Meanwhile, Rome slipped in popularity, falling below Frankfurt and Dubai.


Paris – the place to be

The French capital has always been a popular choice – but what about the authentic, less clichéd city? Many of Paris’ smaller museums offer beautiful art and often escape the maddening crowds. For a real experience you can spend sometime away from the rest of the world, exploring Paris’ covered passages.


New York, New York…

This city still ranks second by visitor spend (after London), according to The Wall Street Journal. It has reported that The Big Apple is an ever popular tourist attraction, welcoming a record 52m visitors last year.



In the Asia/Pacific region, Bangkok ruled the roost in the total number of visitors and spending. It is expected to displace Paris as the third-ranking city by visitor spending, while Dubai retains its rank as one of the top 10 destination cities in the Middle East and Africa.


Planning on getting away in 2013? 

You might not be alone. And if the UK has as much rainfall this year, more people could head overseas to escape the deluge. As reported by Reuters, the Chinese were the largest group of tourists for 2012, with numbers increasing by 30% year-on-year. Their Russian neighbours also saw an increase in tourism, with numbers rising by 16%.


So, what are you waiting for? Grab your overseas’ guide, research your travel insurance options, pack your bags and off you go!


This guest post was written on behalf of Money Matters, the Sainsbury’s Bank blog. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury’s Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.