Johannesburg Africa’s most popular city? Any thoughts on that Cape Town?

On June 2, 2014 / by Michaela / Leave a comment

Johannesburg – number 1 city in Africa

With less than a quarter of the visitor number of Johannesburg, Cape Town features 9th after other African cities such as Lagos in Nigeria, Cairo in Egypt, Tunis in Tunisia, Casablanca in Morocco, Dakar in Senegal, Accra in Ghana and Nairobi in Kenya. Those figures don’t necessarily come as a big surprise, as Johannesburg is known to be hub of Africa and home to the busiest airports on the African continent.


The third annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index is very clear: Johannesburg is the most popular city in Africa. In fact, 2.54 million people are expected to visit “the city of gold” in 2013.

Visitor numbers to Johannesburg


“For the first time in the Index’s three year history, Johannesburg occupies the number one rank in terms of expected international visitor arrivals in Africa,” says Philip Panaino, division president, MasterCard, South Africa.


Its interesting to see where visitors go after having visited Johannesburg. The MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index reveals that most head off to African destinations, such as Maputo, Harare, Lagos and Windhoek, some are off to London.


Not only is Johannesburg featuring as a magnet compared to its African neighbors, it is seeing a 53.6% increase in visitors since 2009 and has therefore been listed in the top 20 fastest growing cities in the world.


Vistors not only flock to Johannesburg they also spend considerable amounts of cash


In fact it turns out visitors not only flock to Johannesburg but also leave some considerable cash there. The recent research shows that in 2013 alone 27 Billion Rand were spent in the city.


Having a look at the origin of the travellers its not surprising, that the lion share of visitors is from London/UK (expected to spend an average of US$ 1,612.04 per head), followed by Frankfurt/Germany (expected to spend an average of US$716.58 per person) and visitors from Dubai/United Arabic Emirates (expected to spend an average of US$ 719.75 per person).


Coming back to our favourite city, the mother of all cities and home to many expats, Cape Town, while Durban has the second highest growth rate in visitor numbers, Cape Town is the one African destination that is due to see a decline in visitor numbers and expenditure. How can this be? Mastercard reveals this is mainly due to very practical reasons such as air travel connectivity. South African Airways stopped flying direct between London and Cape Town in 2012. Consequently the drop in visitor numbers to Cape Town is mainly expected to be a drop in UK visitors.




According to News24 Cape Town and Durban will soon see more visitors from Dubai however.


“Despite the persistent weakness of constrained demand in the global economy, international travel is growing strongly, and 132 of the world’s most important destination cities are benefiting. This is underscored by electronic payments, which are enabling more people from more places to participate in the global economy than ever before,” Panaino concluded.


To read more about immigrating to South Africa and living and working in Johannesburg follow the link.
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Michaela heads up the marketing department for Initiate Holdings. An expat herself she understands the unique challenges immigrants are facing in South Africa.

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