Durban fastest growing destination in Africa

Johannesburg will get the most visitors, but Durban is the fastest growing city in Africa for visitor numbers and expenditure. This is according to the latest Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index.


Durban is predicted to be the second fastest growing city of all the 132 cities surveyed worldwide , with a projected 33.3% growth in the number of international visitors and 41.3% growth in visitor expenditure in 2012 – albeit off a low base.

“The Durban International Convention Centre provides the largest flat floor, column free exhibition and conferencing space in Africa, attracting many international exhibitors to the city while playing host to some of the largest and most complex conferences and business events in the world over the past fifteen years,” says Dries Zietsman, country manager, MasterCard Worldwide, South Africa.

“This is the second installment of this MasterCard Index, which is used as a barometer for understanding the global economy and the dynamic flow of commerce across the world,” says Zietsman.“The Index ranks 132 global cities[1] 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.”

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.


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

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.

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.

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 visitors.

“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.”

Cape Town

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.”


While cities in Europe and the US still ranked highly on the Index, Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor for MasterCard Worldwide and author of the report, said more cities in Africa are showing strong growth.

“Tunis, after the political upheaval in early 2011, is expected to show growth of 19.8% in visitor spend with an increase in visitor numbers of 17.7%. Nairobi also expects double figure growth: a 10% growth in visitor spend is expected off a 16.7% growth in visitor expenditure. Cairo, in spite of ongoing turmoil in Egypt, expects an 8.4% growth in spend off an 8.3% growth in visitor numbers,” explained Dr. Hedrick-Wong. “This kind of growth pattern strongly suggests that destination cities in emerging markets in Africa will also continue to grow in importance in the global economy,” he said.

“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.

Click here for the complete global report from Mastercard.


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