While more Australians are shopping, new data shows that retailers should be targeting international visitors who see Sydney and Melbourne as top spending destinations.

The MasterCard index of global destination cities indicate that while Sydney and Melbourne did not feature in the top twenty for visitor arrivals, the two cities ranked highly on visitor expenditure ranking sixth and nineteenth respectively. International visitors are expected to spend $14.05 billion in Sydney while $7.64 billion in Melbourne.

MasterCard Australia country manager Andrew Cartwright said Australian businesses have expressed concern over recent months about the impact of the strong Australian dollar but it’s positive to see that visitors to the country plan to spend more when they’re here.

“What is really encouraging for our travel and tourism sector is that Sydney performs particularly well globally in terms of international visitor expenditure, coming in ahead of renowned shopping and entertainment destinations Los Angeles, Madrid and Singapore,” he said.

The index also looked at the growth rates of visitor expenditure in destination cities and found Melbourne ranked eighth in the world by predicted growth, with visitor spending expected to increase by 1 per cent this year.

“Melbourne is proving itself as a future hot spot for international travellers with growth in visitor expenditure expected to be almost one fifth higher this year than it was for the same period in 2010. The real winners will be the businesses that seize the opportunity this presents and prepare themselves for the expected growth in spending over the next twelve months,” Cartwright said.

Within the Asia/Pacific region Melbourne again features predominantly in terms of visitor expenditure, ranking eighth ahead of regional business hubs Kuala Lumpur (US$6 billion) and Shanghai (US$6 billion).

Sydney ranks second with an expected expenditure of US$13.8 billion, just behind Bangkok in the Index. Melbourne, ranks eighth ahead of regional business hubs Kuala Lumpur (US$6 billion) and Shanghai (US$6 billion).

“As the global economic centre continues to shift and with visitor arrivals and expenditure on arrival continuing to increase, the Asia/Pacific region is continuing to emerge as an integral area for the future of global commerce,” Cartwright said.