Johannesburg – Johannesburg is set to be the most popular destination in Africa, with a projected 2.54 million international visitors expected to visit the city in 2013, according to the third annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index.

Mastercard released the figures stating, despite a marginal 5.5% increase in the number of international visitors from 2012, Johannesburg’s substantial 53.6% growth in international visitors from 2009 to 2013 has propelled it into the Index’s top 20 fastest growing cities globally.

Johannesburg also comes out tops in Africa in terms of international visitor spending, with US $2.7 billion estimated (about R27bn at R10.03/$) to be injected into the city during 2013, a slight increase (1%) on 2012’s expenditure.

“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.

“Home to the continent’s busiest airport and the air transport hub of southern Africa, Johannesburg has grown from strength to strength,” he says.

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The MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranks cities[1] in terms of the number of their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by these same visitors in the destination cities. It also gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2013.

Thirteen African cities were ranked within 132 cities that were included in the Index. These included Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Cairo, Casablanca, Accra, Nairobi, Beira, Dakar, Kampala, Lagos, Maputo, and Tunis.

The top three cities from which most visitors to Johannesburg originate are London (299,000 people), Frankfurt (187,000 people), and Dubai (157,000 people), with all of these expected to grow in 2013. The number of visitors from London is expected to increase by 5.6%, followed by those from Frankfurt (4.5%), and Dubai (2.4%).

In more detail, Londoners are expected to spend US$482 million during 2013 (an average of US$1,612.04 per person), those from Frankfurt will spend approximately US$134 million (an average of US$716.58 per person), while Dubai visitors are projected to spend US$113 million (an average of US$719.75 per person).