Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index ranks the UAE Capital with a growth rate of 18.9% on previous year. Picture: Supplied.

Recently named the safest city in the world, Abu Dhabi has now also been named the fastest growing destination city in the Middle East and Africa, according to the 2017 Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index as well as the also top trending travel destination, according to online travel site, Opodo. 
In the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, the UAE Capital ranked fourth globally as a leading destination city with a projected increase of 4.5% in visitor figures, as well as the fourth fastest growing destination city out of 132 countries worldwide. 
With a growth rate of 18.9% on 2016 figures on the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, Abu Dhabi’s growth as a destination of distinction in the region places it above Riyadh, Tehran and Dubai. 
HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, Department of Culture and Tourism, said “Being recognised as the fastest growing destination cities in the region is an incredible achievement. With the recently announced launch of the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi and cultural exhibitions such as Hajj: Memories of a Journey, the capital’s reputation as a destination of distinction continues to grow, building on the unique experiences and cultural heritage offered.” 
Based on visitor volume and spend information for the 2016 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a forecast for growth in 2017, insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world. Public data is used in deriving the international overnight visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.
Ghobash continued: “Last year was a record breaking year for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, welcoming 4.4 million visitors. Our year-on-year growth rate has been strong and by the end of 2017 we are looking to reach our target of over 4.9 million visitors to the Emirate.”  

Adding to this, according to Opodo, Abu Dhabi has topped the list with an increase in bookings in 2017, adding that the growth is mostly because of the opening of the museum Louvre in November.
The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international overnight visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities in 2016, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2017.