With 12.56 million projected visitors in 2015, Istanbul outpaced New York and Singapore, climbing two spots to become the fifth most visited city in the world, according to the annual MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index released on June 3. Istanbul showed the strongest growth at 11.4 percent, moving to fifth from seventh, by international overnight visitors. Both Bangkok and Dubai grew by 8 percent, the second fastest after Istanbul, according to the report. Istanbul, which ranked seventh in the 2014 rankings with 11.27 million visitors, climbed to fifth in 2014 with a projected 12.56 million visitors, constituting an increase of 11.4 percent, the highest growth among the top 40 cities on the index. “Istanbul has a much higher growth rate than Paris. If these two cities continue to grow their international visitors’ numbers at the current rates, in four years, Istanbul will overtake Paris to become second-ranked in Europe after London,” said the report. Istanbul was the fastest growing destination city in Europe, according to the report. Three cities in Eastern Europe were also among the top ten fastest growing European destination cities; Bucharest (ranked sixth), Budapest (ranked seventh) and Warsaw (ranked eighth). The MasterCard-sponsored index evaluated travel patterns to rank 132 global cities by visitors. The top four were London with 18.82 million visitors, Bangkok with 18.24 million, Paris with 16.06 million and Dubai with 14.26 million. In 2015, it is expected that nearly 383 million overnight trips will be made by international visitors between the Index’s 132 cities, representing a massive demand for goods, services and experiences as they spend at total of $360 billion during their visits, said the index. Istanbul also ranked 10th in spending by overnight visitors at $9.37 billion, a 7.3 percent increase from $8.73 billion in 2014. The city ranked 12 in the previous report. Among all 132 cities, Istanbul also had the most diverse visitor base. The city attracted half of its international tourists from 33 different countries, according to the report. Diversifying sources of visitors means a higher resilience against long-term economic instability, added the report. London, the top-ranked in the world, was the second most resilient with 26 feeder cities, followed by Paris, Amsterdam and Dubai. In terms of visitor cross-border spending, Istanbul ranked as the fourth most profitable city in Europe after Barcelona. It is expected that 383 million overnight trips will be made to the index’s 132 cities in 2015 by visitors who will spend a total of $360 billion during their visits.