South Africa’s most important city

The 2015 MasterCard Global Destination Cities shows that Johannesburg remains South Africa’s – and Africa’s – most travelled-to city.

The index charts how 132 of the” most important cities in the world” are connected through air travel – how many international visitors arrive at each of the cities from the other cities; and how much these visitors spend during their visit.

In 2015, MasterCard expects nearly 383 million overnight trips will be made by international visitors between the Index’s 132 cities, as they spend at total of US$360 billion during their visits.

London has retained the number one position as the most-visited city in the world, with 18.82 million international visitors expected to pass through customs in 2015.

This is only slightly ahead of the second most visited city, Bangkok, which is expected to draw 18.24 million visitors.

London also draws the most visitor spending, MasterCard said, taking in $20.23 billion from travellers. New York, ranked sixth in terms of visitors, raked in the second-largest amount of money at $17.37 billion.

The top 20 destinations list has remained largely unchanged between 2014 and 2015, with the only shifts happening between New York, Istanbul and Singapore.

Specifically, Istanbul jumped two places to become the fifth most-visited city with 12.56 million people, pushing New York (12.27 million) to sixth, and Singapore (11.88 million) to seventh.

Top 20 most-visited cities in the world

# City 2015 visitors 2015 spend
1 London 18.82 million $20.2 billion
2 Bangkok 18.24 million $12.4 billion
3 Paris 16.06 million $16.6 billion
4 Dubai 14.26 million $11.7 billion
5 Istanbul 12.56 million $9.4 billion
6 New York 12.27 million $17.4 billion
7 Singapore 11.88 million $14.7 billion
8 Kuala Lumpur 11.12 million $12.0 billion
9 Seoul 10.35 million $15.2 billion
10 Hong Kong 8.66 million $7.4 billion
11 Tokyo 8.08 million $8.4 billion
12 Barcelona 7.63 million $13.9 billion
13 Amsterdam 7.44 million $3.7 billion
14 Rome 7.41 million $5.3 billion
15 Milan 7.17 million $4.9 billion
16 Taipei 6.55 million $9.3 billion
17 Shanghai 5.85 million $5.1 billion
18 Vienna 5.81 million $4.6 billion
19 Prague 5.47 million $3.3 billion
20 Los Angeles 5.20 million $7.4 billion

In Africa, Johannesburg ranked as the most-visited city on the continent, drawing 4.44 million visitors in 2015, with a spend of $2.6 billion in the city.

Johannesburg is a central hub and gateway to many other African cities, as well as a primary business destination on the continent, which would account for its large number of overnight visitors.

According to the report, Joburg’s top two feeder cities are European – London and Frankfurt – which also spend the most in the city. 402,000 Londoners and 345,000 Frankfurters spent a combined $562 million over the reporting period.

Other key feeder cities are in Southern Africa: Harare (342,000), Maputo (230,000) and Windhoek (230,000).

Cape Town was ranked second on the continent, with 1.96 million visitors, spending $2.1 billion. While Cape Town draws less than half the visitors Joburg sees, on average the Mother City’s international guests spend more ($1,070 vs Joburg’s $585).

Cape Town is also one of the fastest-growing destination cities, according to MasterCard, seeing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9% since 2009.

Joburg is also a fast-growing city in the region, with a CAGR of 5.0% since 2009.

Joburg vs Cape Town

City 2015 visitors 2015 spend Average spend
Johannesburg 4.44 million $2.6 billion $585
Cape Town 1.96 million $2.1 billion $1,070

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South Africa’s most important city