Top 25 Cities for Tourism and Commercial Real Estate

December 17th, 2013 by Diane Moore

The idea of combining tourism and commercial real estate activity could be a great way for both exploring new touristic horizons and making the financial benefit from it. It is also highly important for the investor to know the top destinations where the commercial real estate investment could bring him the maximum revenue.

Top 25 Cities for Tourism and Commercial Real Estate

Top 25 Cities for Tourism and Commercial Real Estate

Therefore, let’s have a look at the main 25 cities that receive the maximum amount of tourists, thus bringing more commercial real estate opportunities for the investors.

1. Bangkok


For the first time in many years, an Asian city-Bangkok-has been ranked the number one tourist destination in 2013. Around 15.98 million individuals will be visiting the city this year, spending over $ 14.3 billion. The city has also emerged as a hotbed of commercial real estate investments, with around 8 million square meters of office accommodation today.


The office market is heading into a period of powerful health and is quickly emerging as a landlord’s market with the uptake exceeding 100,000 square meters per year, with expectations of further growth.

2. London


Visitors to London are able to enjoy admittance to some of the more exciting and iconic tourist attractions across the globe. London has also established itself as the top destination for commercial real estate investment from the US, Middle East and Asia. The city is expected to welcome 15.96 million tourists this year who could spend close to $ 16.3 billion.

This year saw a series of some high profile deals in central London by foreign investors, which included the purchase of Lloyd’s building for a staggering £260m by China-based Ping An and Bank Of America’s European Headquarters for £385m by the Kuwaiti Government. The city is regarded as the haven of investment by cash-rich investors.

3. Paris


Though Paris would top the list as a favorite destination to be visited by many travelers, it fell by two places this year. Roughly 13.92 million people are expected to visit the city of lights, spending as much as $ 14.6 billion this year.


The city has also been an important market for commercial real estate investment, with total investment volumes between € 8-10 Billion every year. The overall office stock in Paris is reaching 50 million square meters and is geared to be the largest office market in Europe.

4. Singapore


The city will generate revenue of $ 13.5 billion from 11.75 million tourists who’ll be flocking to the place this year. Singapore can be a great alternative for your holidays on account of various fun tourists’ attraction the place has to offer. The city will generate revenue of $ 13.5 billion from 11.75 million tourists who’ll be flocking to the place this year.


Singapore is looking like a great place for commercial real estate investments as it has a strong economy besides a prime location for business and trade. Among the economies in Asia, Singapore sparkles as the top real estate investment hub in the region, which is mainly attributed to awareness among foreign investors about the prospects the city has to offer.

5. New York


New York will be a home for 11.52 million tourists in 2013 with the total tourism spend being the highest here than any other spot-a whooping $ 18.6 billion. Some famed places for tourists include Central Park, Ellis Island Immigration Museum and Empire State Building among others.


The city is also regarded as the best place for commercial real estate investment opportunities. Around $ 49.2 billion worth of deals in real estate investment were struck in 2012, with the place surpassing 24 other cities across the globe in terms of investments in the commercial real estate market. 

6. Istanbul


Turkey’s capital-Istanbul-could see roughly 10.37 million tourists this year with a spending capacity of $ 8.6 billion. The income from tourism is a 5.5% jump compared to the previous year, according to the third annual Global Destination Cities Index by MasterCard.


The city is also the new hotspot for property investors as well as developers. The demand for new housing at present time is running at approximately 250,000 units each year, and available land is being ring-fenced for large scale commercial projects, according to Maureen Madden of Colordarcy-a property investment consultancy.

7. Dubai


Dubai, with a superb infrastructure and liberal policies has lately become famous for its great tourist amenities. It is also a hotspot for wealthy property investors from across the globe. The city with the tallest skyscraper, Dubai, will see 9.9 million tourists this year who’ll bring in a total revenue of $ 10.4 billion.


At the end of the second quarter of 2013, the net office stock in the place stood at 7.2 million square meters, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. With improvement in optimism and market confidence, the demand for commercial properties is picking up.

8. Kuala Lumpur


The tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur are limitless, which is the prime reason why Malaysia figures in the top ten lists of most visited nations in the world. This city in Malaysia will see around 9.2 million tourists with a total revenue generation of $ 7.8 billion this year.


Investment in commercial properties in Kuala Lumpur still looks bright, especially for Singaporean investors. The retail sector is doing exceptionally well and is now regarded as the fourth best place for shopping in the world. The total supply of office space in the city was 48 million square feet a few months back.

9. Hong Kong


Around $6.3 billion is anticipated to be spent by 8.7 million tourists in Hong Kong this year. Almost every district in Hong Kong is a tourist spot. Places like Avenue Start, The Peak and Ocean Park Hong Kong are excellent attractions for tourists.


Due to successive cooling measures imposed by the government of Hong Kong, the place continues to witness depressed investment volumes in the commercial real estate market. However, foreign ownership of property in Hong Kong is a viable alternative, with property prices in the city doubling over the last four years.

10. Barcelona


Barcelona is slated to generate $ 8.9 billion in 2013 from 8.41 million tourists who’ll be flocking to the city. Strolling around this big city can be a lot of fun. Spots like Sagrada Familia, La Rambla and Montjuic can be great amusements. The prices of commercial and residential properties in the city are far lower compared to that in Paris or London.


There are many investment and family offices funds with long investment horizons, who are examining closely at the real estate sector in Barcelona, according to Jose de Ochoa, managing director at Alvarez & Marsal. There has also been a surge in the number of commercial property deals in Barcelona.

11. Seoul


The capital of South Korea will attract around 8.2 million tourists, with the total revenue from tourism expected to stand at $ 10.8 billion in 2013. This bustling city has many things to offer to a tourist and is emerging as a hot tourist destination.


Seoul is an important property investment destination in East Asia and has achieved rapid economic growth. The two most famous business districts of Seoul include Kangnam and Yoido. The commercial property market in the city is the least volatile in the whole of Asia.

12. Milan


The Fashion capital of Italy could see 6.83 million tourists this year with their total spend being $ 6.6 billion. The city boasts of several tourist attractions like Duomo and Piazza, the San Siro Stadium, the Castello, the Brera district etc.


Of late, Milan has been attracting foreign investors who are exhibiting a growing appetite for Italian commercial real estate. The volume of cross-border transactions in Italy reached $ 3.71 billion from January to October 2013, according to Real Capital Analytics Inc.

13. Rome


Rome has many wonderful sights, ranging from ancient ruins to fashionable museums and monuments. The city is expected to pull in 6.7 million tourists in 2013 to spend an evaluated $ 6.4 billion. The city has a total of ten skyscrapers out of which three are above 100 meters.


An increasing number of buyers and investors from the US and Europe are heavily investing in the real estate market in Rome. Properties, such as La Muratella, Telecom Italia and Grattacielo Italia, which are under construction, have generated a lot of interest from offshore investors.

14. Shanghai


Western tourists find Shanghai an attractive destination as it offers a cosmopolitan ambience along with a rich Chinese Culture. The city is expected to host 6.5 million tourists this year who’ll be spending approximately $ 6.9 billion during their stay here. Examinations based on the SML (Security Market Line) hint that property investments, especially in the office sector have the maximum returns.


Also, Shanghai office property is subjected to the minimum systematic risk in comparison to other cities. The slowdown in the growth rate of China has forced the government to relax certain restriction on foreigners wanting to make an investment in the property market.

15. Amsterdam


Amsterdam has a wide ambit of cultural and recreational sights, which range from attractive old buildings, such as the Oude Kerk, to peculiar structures like the Hash Marihuana Museum. The city is expected to be a host to 6.35 million tourists with the total tourism income to reach $ 6.3 billion.


The conditions in Amsterdam are absolutely perfect for foreign investors in the property market, according to the Financial Times. More than 2000 foreign firms have invested in the Metropolitan Area and have joined others in making the city an important business hub.

16. Tokyo


The capital of Japan is stuffed with attractions for visitors and tourists, with places like Harajuku, Sensoji Temple and Tokyo Imperial Palace among others being major attractions. This year, around 5.8 million tourists will be visiting Tokyo and spend as much as $ 12.7 billion.


The office market in the city is displaying signs of recovery following a two-decade depression, prompting firms like Morgan Stanley and Apple Inc to relocate before vacancies fall and rents rise. 

17. Vienna


Vienna is one of the most dominant cultural hubs in Europe and caters the tourists from all over the world. Some famous spots here include Schonbrunn Palace, State Opera House and Schlosspark Schoenbrunn. Around $ 4.8 billion dollars is expected to be spent by tourists numbering about 5.37 million in 2013.


The place also has a powerful economy and will soon emerge as a top economic center in Europe. The commercial real estate market in Vienna continues to boom with investor demand surpassing supply. Property values in 2012 soared by 9.2% compared to the previous year.

18. Taipei


Taipei, capital of the Republic of China, is an important shopping, culinary and tourist destination. Some of the best tourist attractions in Taipei include Yangmingshan National Park, Beitou Hot Springs and Building Chiang Kai-shek Memorial among others.


An estimated, 5.19 million tourists will be flocking to the city this year and spend close to $8.1 billion. The commercial property market in Taipei will witness a surge in trading volume following the lifting of property investment bans on real estate by the FSC (Financial Supervisory Commission) in August this year. The re-entry of life insurance firms is set to give a new life to the property market in the days to come.

19. Riyadh


Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia, is a very famous tourist hub with an endless list of activities especially for tourists. From sports and adventures, sightseeing to antiquities, markets to shopping malls, the list goes on. The 2013 in Riyadh will see 5 million tourists that will bring in total revenue of $ 3.4 billion.


The city is forecasted to become one of the best property markets in the world, according to DAMAC Properties-the largest private developer in the Middle East.

20. Los Angeles


The sprawling city of Los Angeles will be a home for 4.84 million tourists this year with the total amount being spent by these tourists close to $ 7.8 billion. Some hot places here include Disneyland, Griffith Park, Hollywood Walk of Fame and Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden.


The city recently featured in the top five cities for commercial real estate investments in a report compiled by Cushman & Wakefield earlier this year.

21. Las Vegas


Las Vegas, with its flashing lights and all kinds of entertainment for both the young and old, is a famous tourist spot. It saw a record number of visitors at 39.7 million in 2012,  spending approximately $ 1,318.


The property market in the city is bustling following recession, with sales volume and transactions showing an improvement. Investors spent around $ 1 billion in commercial real estate in Las Vegas in the first six months of this year.

22. Copenhagen


Tourists in Copenhagen mainly consist of individuals from neighboring countries like Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. The place, which was home for 8.7 million visitors in 2010, has shown some decline in the number of overnight stays lately.


The Copenhagen real estate market saw high vacancy rates in 2012 and faced weak economic growth along with depressed consumer spending. However, there is an indication of considerable investment market recovery in 2013.

23. San Francisco


San Francisco was a host to 16.5 million visitors last year, with the total visitor spending reaching the highest ever at $ 8.93 billion. This indicates that on an average day in the city, 131,128 visitors spend $ 24.46 million.


The city recently emerged as a top destination for office properties, with 48 office properties valued at roughly $ 20 million being sold in the city from July 2012-April 2013.

24. Madrid


Madrid is a cosmopolitancity with a large cultural and artistic heritage and is also an important financial, economic, service and administrative center. It receives approximately 5 million tourists each year, according to the National Institute of Statistics. The property market in Madrid is indicating signs of life, according to Knight Frank.


Investment volumes in the fourth quarter of 2012 surged on account of some major deals. Around € 507 million was invested in office properties in 2012.

25. Sydney


Sydney has been a favorite destination, especially for Canadians wanting to take extended holidays. The city boasts of many excellent parks and beaches. Sydney has been ranked as the sixth biggest hub for offshore commercial real estate investment.


It attracted $ 3.6 billion in foreign capital in 2012-a jump of 47.7% compared to the previous year. Thus, the commercial real estate sector here looks bright and full of promises.

Final Thoughts


These top cities in the world are not only a favorite among global tourists but also offshore commercial real estate investors. All of these cities have their own merits and drawbacks when it comes to commercial real estate investments. The number of global destinations offering an opportunity for offshore investment appears to be increasing with each passing day, and a good commercial real estate broker may assist in choosing the right destination.  



Diane is a highly-qualified translator of the English, Italian and Spanish languages. She has studied extensively in Italy and Switzerland. She writes about a variety of financial services industries including insurance. She has a love of life and a curiosity that drives her both personally and professionally.

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