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Johannesburg Remains Africa’s Most Visited City Print E-mail
06 November 2014
Johannesburg is set to be the most popular destination city in Africa for the second year, followed by Cape Town, according to the 2014 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index.

Johannesburg expects 4.3 million international overnight visitors in 2014, a 4.9 percent increase on last year’s 4.1 million visitors. Johannesburg also comes out tops in Africa in terms of international visitor expenditure, with travelers expected to spend a substantial US$3.2 billion in 2014, compared to US$3.06 billion last year.

“The City of Gold’s status as the most popular destination city among visitors to the African continent is significant for the economic prospects of the city. Visitor spend is an increasingly important source of revenue for the city’s hospitality, retail, transport, sports and cultural sectors,” says Mark Elliott, Division President, South Africa, MasterCard.

Now in its fourth year, the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks 132 cities in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities. It also gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2014. The 13 African cities ranked in the Index are Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Cairo, Casablanca, Accra, Nairobi, Beira, Dakar, Kampala, Lagos, Maputo and Tunis.

Most visitors to Johannesburg will again travel from London. This year, visitors from that city will increase in number by three percent (444,000 in 2013 compared to 458,000 in 2014). Londoners will spend an estimated US$462 million while in Johannesburg, US$20 million less than they did in 2013.

Frankfurt (305,000 people), Harare (269,000 people), Maputo (204,000 people) and Paris (198,000) round out the top five cities sending visitors to Johannesburg. Parisians are expected to spend the most (US$337 million), followed by visitors from Frankfurt (US$159 million), Harare (US$140 million), and Maputo (US$115 million).

“The City of Johannesburg welcomes the announcement as it cements our City's position as the economic capital and the heartland of trade and economic activity in Africa,” says Executive Mayor Clr Parks Tau. “We are proud to be the home of most local and multinational companies in banking, finance and industry due to our world-class economic and social infrastructure which is essential to big business."

"Johannesburg is a global city that is trusted to host major sporting events, meetings and summits. We recently hosted the C40 Cities for Climate Change Summit and will soon host the prestigious Africities Conference - the continent's premier gathering of local authorities in Africa,” Tau elaborates. “We also believe that visitors continue to flock to Johannesburg because, beyond business and meetings, it is a truly cosmopolitan and vibrant destination where various cultures live and celebrate side by side; A City rich in music, fashion, arts, heritage and culture."

Trailing Johannesburg by a substantial margin, Cape Town is set to be Africa’s second most visited city. The Mother City is expected to receive 1.6 million international overnight visitors in 2014, who are likely to spend US$2.3 billion. This is a 5.5 percent increase in visitor numbers and an impressive 10 percent increase in spend compared to 2013 (US$2.1 billion).

“This year’s Index points to a continued strong demand for and interest in air travel, both for business and personal reasons. Having Johannesburg and Cape Town in the top two places in Africa is a great achievement for South African Tourism,” Elliott says.

Rounding out the top five most visited cities in Africa are Cairo in Egypt (1,35 million visitors spending US$804 million), Lagos in Nigeria (1,33 million visitors spending US$710 million), and Casablanca in Morocco (0,98 million visitors spending US$737 million).

The world’s top destination cities

For the third time in four years, London is the destination of choice for travellers. London will receive 18.7 million international visitors in 2014, followed by Bangkok (16.4 million), Paris (15.6 million), Singapore (12.5 million) and Dubai (11.9 million).

These cities are benefiting from the surge in international travel fuelled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and the rising need for business travel.

“The Index recognises cities as important business, cultural and economic hubs. This is where MasterCard comes in. Every day, we help consumers and businesses maximize all of the travel opportunities available to them, including a safe and secure way to pay no matter where they are,” says Elliott.

MasterCard 2014 Global Destination Cities Index– African Cities Ranked by Visitor Numbers

2014 Africa rank 2014 Global rank Destination City Country 2013 International Visitors
2014 International Visitors 2013
Visitor Spend

Visitor Spend
1 28 Johannesburg South Africa 4 057 161 4 253 968 $3,06bn $3,20bn
2 68 Cape Town South Africa 1 520 444 1 604 234 $2,14bn $2,25bn
3 75 Cairo Egypt 1 503 354 1 353 019 $870m $804m
4 76 Lagos Nigeria 1 259 106 1 332 300 $684m $710m
5 85 Casablanca Morocco 920 677 989 219 $642m $737m
6 92 Durban South Africa 863 296 890 178 $669m $689m
7 94 Accra Ghana 729 339 842 414 $486m $561m
8 98 Nairobi Kenya 568 266 619 506 $281m $317m
9 99 Dakar Senegal 587 609 619 413 $371m $433m
10 101 Entebbe Uganda 582 276 576 434 $496m $535m
11 106 Tunis Tunisia 456 360 427 807 $174m $170m
12 115 Maputo Mozambique 252 741 254 255 $25m $24m
13 132 Beira Mozambique 11 438 20 786 $1m $2m

About the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index
The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities, and gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2014.
Public data are used in deriving the international visitor arrivals and their cross-border spending in each of the 132 destination cities, using custom-made algorithms; paying special attention to eliminate the hub effects for destination cities such as Singapore, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. This Index and the accompanying reports are not based on MasterCard volumes or transactional data.

About MasterCard
MasterCard (NSYE: MA), is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter: @MasterCardMEA and @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Cashless Pioneers Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the MEA Engagement Bureau.

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Last Updated on 20 November 2014