London

London's on a roll with travelers as the most popular tourist destination in the world, a new report says. Here visitors on the London Eye overlook Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament by night. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

More than 18 million people will visit London this year, making it the top tourist destination in the world, according to a MasterCard travel report released Wednesday.

London beat out second-ranked Bangkok, the No. 1 tourism stop in 2013, likely because of political unrest in Thailand this year that may have caused travelers to stay away.

Of the 20 most popular destinations in the world, only one U.S. city made the cut: New York City, with an estimated 11 million visitors. Others in the top 10 include, in order, Paris at No. 3 then Singapore, Dubai, New York City, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Seoul.

The MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for 2014 says tourism dollars exceeded gross domestic product growth since 2009. Why are more and more people traveling?

The growth of a middle class in emerging markets (China is a good example), increased need for business travelers to hit the road despite the digital age and "proliferating innovations" in luxury travel.

Whatever the reason, tourism is up worldwide -- and here's where money is being spent.

London gets the biggest slice of the pie, bringing in a projected $19 billion in tourist dollars this year. New York comes in second with $18.5 billion, Los Angeles at 13th with $7.8 billion, and San Francisco at 19th with $5.6 billion.

For those planning getaways and who want to be where everyone is (or isn't), the top 10 destinations in Europe are London; Paris; Istanbul, Turkey; Barcelona, Spain; Amsterdam; Milan and Rome in Italy; Vienna; Prague, Czech Republic; and Munich, Germany.

In North America, New York City leads the pack and then Los Angeles, Miami, Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver (Canada), Chicago, Washington, D.C., Montreal and Boston.

For more breakdowns and the methodology of the numbers, check out the 48-page MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for 2014