Johannesburg was the continent’s most visited city last year according to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index released on Tuesday.
The City of Gold saw a 24% increase in international visitors in welcoming 4,57 million tourists, up from 3,69 million visitors the previous year.
Cape Town claimed second place with 1,52 million visitors, an improvement on the previous year’s third place. Lagos, Casablanca and Cairo rounded up the top five while South Africa’s third most visited city was Durban in sixth place.
Cape Town also comes second in terms of expenditure ($1,2 billion) with Durban ($314 million) coming in at eighth.
Anton van der Merwe, Head of Market Development at Mastercard South Africa, said in a statement that Johannesburg had shown remarkable growth.
“The City of Gold has shown the highest year-on-year growth in visitor numbers of all the African cities ranked in the 2016 index, illustrating that its mix of shopping, iconic attractions and tourism offerings is clearly hitting the mark with international travellers,” Van der Merwe said.
“Significantly, Joburg also reported a 4% increase in international expenditure from 2015 – much greater than South Africa’s GDP growth of 0,3% in 2016.
This indicates that Johannesburg is well positioned to be an engine of broad economic growth for the country.”
Mayor Herman Mashaba said that the city possesses an attractive package which entices international visitors.
“Travel and tourism are increasingly important pillars of Johannesburg’s economy, with growth in this sector creating jobs and prosperity for our residents,” Mashaba said.
“Johannesburg’s malls, restaurants, trade conferences and expos, and sporting and cultural events add up to a compelling tourism package that continues to attract international visitors – both from neighbouring African countries and abroad.”