Cairo, Jo’burg, Lagos make MasterCard Global Destination Index

Posted: June 26, 2012 in travel & tourism

Johannesburg will be the second most visited destination city in Africa, with a projected 2.5 million international visitors expected to enter the city in 2012, according to the latest MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index.

In addition, international visitors are projected to spend more while visiting Johannesburg than any other destination city on the continent, with US$3.3billion estimated to be injected into the city during 2012, an increase of 8.1 per cent on 2011’s figures.

Thirteen African cities were ranked within the 132 cities including Cairo, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Accra, Nairobi, Beira, Cape Town, Dakar, Durban, Kampala, Lagos, Maputo, and Tunis.

Ahead of Johannesburg in terms of visitor numbers, and taking the top position in Africa, is Cairo with 3.3-million visitors expected in 2012, while Casablanca, with an anticipated 2.1-million visitors, is third.

“This is the second instalment of this MasterCard Index, which is used as a barometer for understanding the global economy and the dynamic flow of commerce across the world,” said Dries Zietsman, country manager, MasterCard Worldwide, South Africa. “The Index ranks 132 global cities by their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by visitors in the destination cities. It also forecasts visitor and passenger growth for 2012.”

Looking at international visitor expenditure in the African cities surveyed for 2012; Cairo takes second place after Johannesburg, with the city expecting to attract US$3-billion (about R25.2-billion $/R8.43) in cross-border spend followed by Casablanca at US$1.9 billion.

The three cities where most visitors to Johannesburg originate from are London (328, 000 people), Frankfurt (196, 000 people) and Dubai (166, 500 people). Combined, these visitors are expected to inject US$975-million into the city’s economy in terms of cross-border spend during 2012.

In more detail, Londoners are expected to spend US$638-million during 2012 (an average of US$1, 945 per person), those from Frankfurt will spend US$182million (an average US$929 per person) while Dubai visitors will spend US$155million (an average of US$930 per person).

Interestingly, 143, 000 visitors are expected to travel to Johannesburg from Paris, however they will spend an anticipated US$332-million in the city during 2012, a substantial amount compared to visitor numbers and an average of US$2 320 per person, the highest average spend per person of all visitor

“The Index also reveals the destination cities where those from Johannesburg are travelling to, and it was found that in most cases they are opting for African destinations before they travel overseas,” said Zietsman. “Four of the top five outbound destinations for Johannesburg travellers are within Africa. Windhoek and Nairobi are the top two outbound travel destinations; London comes in third, followed by Harare and Luanda.”

In addition to Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town were also surveyed. The Index reveals that Durban will be the fastest growing city in Africa for both visitor numbers and expenditure, and is predicted to be the second fastest growing city of all the 132 cities surveyed worldwide, with a projected 33.3 per cent growth in the number of international visitors and 41.3 per cent in visitor expenditure in 2012, albeit off a low base.

Looking at Cape Town, the majority of international visitors to the Mother City are from London, with 185 000 visitors expected to spend US$361 million throughout the year. This is followed by 127 500 travellers from Dubai spending US$118 million, and 76,000 visitors from Amsterdam spending US$68 million.

In 2011, Tripadvisor, an influential online travel website, named Cape Town as the world’s top holiday destination, which led to British Airways using bigger planes on this route to increase capacity, as well as increasing its weekly flight schedule.

“Cape Town is popular with many travellers because of the wide-range of experiences it offers visitors, from surfing and sailing, mountain climbing and beaches, to its wine farms and world-renowned fine-dining establishments,” said Zietsman. “Its World Heritage Sites, magnificent natural surrounds and superior shopping opportunities add to its irresistible appeal.”

London topped the world’s cities by visitor numbers globally for the second consecutive year. Its number one ranking is based on a predicted uplift of international visitor numbers by 1.1 per cent to a record 16.9 million. Paris, in second position, expects 16 million inbound passengers. Making up the rest of the top five global destination cities are Bangkok (12.2 million visitors), Singapore (11.8 million visitors) and Istanbul (11.6 million visitors).

Surprisingly, no US cities made the top 10 by visitor arrivals, with New York the first city to achieve a ranking at 13th spot, with 7.6 million inbound passengers expected.

London also ranked first in cross-border expenditure, ahead of New York in second place, with estimated spend in these cities for 2012 amounting to US$21.1 billion and US$19.4 billion respectively. Bangkok, Paris and Singapore make up the rest of the top five with visitor expenditure at US$19.3 billion, US$17.8 billion and US$12.7 billion to be spent in 2012 respectively.

While cities in Europe and the United States still ranked highly on the Index, Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor for MasterCard Worldwide and author of the report, said that the number of emerging market Asian cities featuring in the top ten global destination cities on the Index showed Asia’s growing role in the global economy.”

“In addition, cities in Africa are also showing strong growth. Tunis, after the political upheaval in early 2011, is expected to show growth of 19.8 per cent in visitor spend with an increase in visitor numbers of 17.7 per cent. Nairobi also expects double figure growth; a 10 per cent growth in visitor spend is expected off a 16.7 per cent growth in visitor expenditure. Cairo, in spite of ongoing turmoil in Egypt, expects an 8.4 per cent growth in spend off an 8.3 per cent growth in visitor numbers,” explained Dr. Hedrick-Wong.

“In spite of the ups and downs of the business cycle, the overall pattern is clear: cross-border travel by air is a resilient trend that is embraced by a growing number of people across Africa, underpinned by visitors’ robust willingness and capacity to spend,” he concluded.


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