Business & Economy

Monday, 17 November 2014 07:00

Johannesburg is the most popular destination city in Africa

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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% increase on the 4.1 million visitors in 2013.

Johannesburg also comes out tops in Africa in terms of international visitor expenditure, with travellers expected to spend a substantial $3.2-billion in 2014, compared to $3.06-billion in 2013. 

“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. In 2014, visitors from that city will increase in number by 3% (444 000 in 2013 compared to 458 000 in 2014). Londoners will spend an estimated $462-million while in Johannesburg, $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 ($337-million), followed by visitors from Frankfurt ($159-million), Harare ($140-million), and Maputo ($115-million). 

According to the City of Johannesburg, the Index rating affirms Johannesburg’s status as a world-class African city that has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity to host major sporting events, global meetings and summits, most recently the fifth biennial C40 Mayors Summit earlier in 2014.

“The Index rating cements Johannesburg’s position as the economic capital and heartbeat of trade and economic activity on the African continent. We are proud to be the home of most local and multinational companies in banking, finance and industry due to our economic and social infrastructure,” says City of Johannesburg executive mayor councillor Parks Tau. 

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 $2.3-billion. This is a 5.5% increase in visitor numbers and an impressive 10% increase in spend compared to 2013 ($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,” says Elliott.

Rounding out the top five most visited cities in Africa are Cairo in Egypt (1.35 million visitors spending $804-million), Lagos in Nigeria (1.33 million visitors spending $710-million), and Casablanca in Morocco (0.98 million visitors spending $737-million).

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.

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