Lagos, Dakar and Kampala named top destination cities in Africa by Mastercard

Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index provides a forecast for growth, insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world. Mastercard is a technology company in the global payments industry which offers in-depth analysis based on visitor volume and spend for the calendar year, and, for the first time, offers a view into average length of stay and amount spent per day taking into consideration both vacation and business travelers.

According to a statement from the organisation, Mastercard’s analysis of 2017’s global top cities Bangkok, London and Paris, was down to the robust infrastructure that facilitates travel to business and leisure attractions. A strong local culture on the other hand is highlighted as the factor that makes the top five Sub-Saharan cities of Lagos (Nigeria), Dakar (Senegal), Kampala (Uganda), Nairobi (Kenya) and Accra (Ghana). 

“Lagos is the top spot in sub-Saharan Africa this year, with roughly 1.5 million international overnight visitors,” read a part of the report which expanded this year to look at global 162 cities.

For the second year in a row, the capital of Thailand, Bangkok is destined to be the most popular city in the world for international travelers. The Thai capital welcomed 20.5 million visitors in 2017, and is predicted to host 9.06 percent more in 2018, according to this year’s Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index, while Dubai continues to be the top ranking destination city based on overnight visitor spend averaging $537 per day.

“The forecast for 2018 indicates across-the-board growth, with Istanbul expecting the largest uptick in visitors. In sub-Saharan Africa, the annual growth of international overnight visitors to Dakar, Nairobi and Accra remained static at 0.8 million in Dakar and 0.4 million in both Nairobi and Accra.

“Lagos is the top spot in sub-Saharan Africa this year, with roughly 1.5 million international overnight visitors. Interestingly, visitors tend to stay in Lagos for seven nights and spend only $57 per day, on average, considerably less than its sub-Saharan Africa counterparts.” Visitors to Lagos were mostly from the United States of America, United Kingdom and China. Nairobi, thought of as a tourist hotspot of Africa, comes in with the lowest spend per day in the region at only $50 on average.

London, Bangkok and the other top destinations are all so different yet have one thing in common: they’ve figured out how to capture the imaginations—and dollars—of visitors,” Miguel Gamiño Jr., EVP for Global Cities at Mastercard told Forbes. “Without a doubt, travelers are a critical driver of economic activity in these destination cities.”

Paired with both the affordability and visitor’s willingness to spend, Bangkok is seen as more affordable than Paris or Singapore but pricier than London, which holds the number two spot.  

International travel is crucial to many urban economies, enriching the lives of both residents and tourists. The bar is rising for cities to innovate to provide both a memorable and authentic experience,” said Miguel Gamiño Jr., executive vice president, global cities for Mastercard. “We’re partnering closely with cities around the world to ensure they have insights and technologies to improve how they attract and cater to tourists while preserving what makes them so special in the first place.”