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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bangkok has edged out London as the world's most popular air travel destination, becoming the first Asian city to earn the distinction, according to a ranking by the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities.
The Thai capital headed the 2013 list based on total projected visits by foreigners, followed by London, Paris, Singapore and New York. Istanbul and Dubai showed the strongest expected growth in the number of visitors.
Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, who compiled the index, said Bangkok benefited from its many air links to some of the fastest-growing cities across the world, especially in China and Japan. Visits to Bangkok were expected to grow by 9.8 percent this year.
The ranking was based on a city's expected international air travel arrivals and the amount of money spent in the city by those arrivals.
In 2013, visits to Istanbul were projected to increase by 9.5 percent, and visits to Dubai by 10.9 percent.
If all of the top 10 cities maintained their current growth rates, the index predicted that by 2016 Bangkok and London would be followed by Istanbul in the No. 3 spot, with Paris at No. 4 and Dubai at No.5, with Singapore and New York behind them.
International arrivals by car, train, and bus were not counted in the rankings.
Reporting by Andrea Burzynski; editing by Patricia Reaney and David Storey