Cairo, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Nairobi and Tunis have been ranked as the top five destination cities in Africa.
According to MasterCard’s Index of Global Destination Cities, these five cities will have the highest number of total visitor arrivals in 2011.
Cairo will attract 3.7 million visitors, followed by Johannesburg (3 million), Casablanca (2.5 million), Nairobi (1.8 million) and Tunis (1.7 million). These five urban centres were the only African cities that made the top 10 rankings of the broader Middle East and Africa category. The report, however, notes that all estimates for Cairo and Tunis will need to be reassessed due to the recent political turmoil in these areas.
Cairo will also receive the highest amount of visitor spending. The top 10 cities by visitor expenditures in the Middle East and Africa category are almost identical to the top 10 in visitor arrivals, with only one exception. Tunis, which is ranked tenth by visitor arrivals, is displaced by the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Looking at visitor expenditure growth rates, Nairobi is expected to grow at 20.8%, exceeding the growth rate of Johannesburg, the only other sub-Saharan destination city in the top 10.
The report also sheds light on where visitors to the top destination cities come from. For Cairo, its top five cities of origin of visitors are London, Dubai, Jeddah, Paris, and New York. Visitors from Paris spend the most in Cairo, even though London sends more visitors there. For Johannesburg, the top five cities of origin for travellers are London, Frankfurt, Dubai, Paris, and neighbouring Gaborone.
No African city features in the global top 20 destination cities. London is ranked in first place, followed by Paris and Bangkok. MasterCard’s Index of Global Destination Cities includes 132 urban areas around the world, of which 13 are in Africa. Commercial and tourist hubs such as Lagos and Cape Town, however, did not manage to make the top 10.
The report states that as global economic gravity shifts to the emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, these destinations will attract an increasingly larger portion of international travel. Industries such as hospitality, transportation, retail as well as services such as advertising and marketing are set to benefit from this trend.
“Destination cities in emerging markets worldwide will continue to grow in importance in the new global economy,” notes the report.