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Joburg remains Africa’s top tourist destination, Mastercard Print E-mail
11 October 2017

For the fifth year in a row, Johannesburg has emerged as the most popular destination city in Africa for 2016 in the annual Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index.

Mastercard puts the number of international overnight visitors in 2016 at 4.57 million. This represents an impressive 24 percent increase on the previous year’s 3.69 million visitors.

Cape Town is a distant second, recording 1.52 million visitors in 2016 followed by Nigeria’s Lagos with 1.04 million visitors.

The high number of visitors splurged US$2.56-billion (about R34.82-billin) during their travel, a welcome injection to the city’s economy. The biggest beneficiary of visitor spend was the retail sector, followed by accommodation and dining out.

Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba says these figures confirm Joburg’s position as Africa’s premier cosmopolitan city and commercial hub.

“Travel and tourism are increasingly important pillars of Johannesburg’s economy, with growth in this sector creating jobs and prosperity for our residents,” says Mayor Mashaba.

“Johannesburg’s malls, restaurants, trade conferences and expos, and sporting and cultural events add up to a compelling tourism package that continues to attract international visitors – both from neighbouring African countries and abroad.”

Mastercard attributes Joburg’s attraction to international travellers to its mix of shopping, iconic attractions and tourism offerings.

“Significantly, Joburg also reported a four percent increase in international expenditure from 2015 – much greater than South Africa’s GDP growth of 0.3 percent in 2016. This indicates that Johannesburg is well positioned to be an engine of broad economic growth for the country,” says Anton van der Merwe, Head of Market Development at Mastercard, South Africa.

The Mastercard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks the world’s top 132 destination cities in terms of visitor volume and spend. It also provides insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world.

The 13 African cities ranked in the index are Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos, Casablanca, Cairo, Durban, Accra, Dakar, Entebbe, Tunis, Nairobi, Maputo and Beira.

Some 78 percent of Johannesburg’s international overnight visitors in 2016 travelled from the Middle East Africa region. Mozambique was the number one country that sends visitors to Johannesburg, accounting for 1.02 million visitors or 22 percent of the total.

The rest of the top five origin countries were Zimbabwe (841 000), Lesotho (493 000), Botswana (315 000) and Swaziland (215 000).
To learn more about the top locations on the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2017, please visit:

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Last Updated on 11 October 2017