A Mastercard index released yesterday identifies Durban as the city that will grow its tourist market the fastest in Africa this year, in terms of visitor numbers and expenditure.
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said recently SA’s tourism industry had bucked international trends and had survived the worst of the economic downturn. Tourism accounts for 9% of employment in SA.
The MasterCard global destination cities index, which surveys visitor and expenditure numbers across 132 cities, found most visitors came to Durban for work and business.
The index included 12 other African cities - Johannesburg, Casablanca, Accra, Nairobi, Beira, Cape Town, Dakar, Kampala, Lagos, Maputo, Cairo and Tunis.
"The Durban International Convention Centre provides the largest flat-floor, column-free exhibition and conferencing space in Africa, attracting many international exhibitors to the city," Dries Zietsman, manager for MasterCard Worldwide in SA, said yesterday.
The index was compiled using advance flight schedules from several airlines to estimate actual passenger departures and forecast departures for the coming year.
Johannesburg was tipped to be the second-most visited destination in Africa - behind Cairo - with a projected 2,5-million foreign visitors expected this year. The index estimated they would spend about $3-billion this year, an 8% increase on last year’s spend.
Cape Town was still a favourite destination, particularly for visitors from London, with their expenditure forecast to be $361-million this year.
On the global destinations index, London - which is hosting the Olympic Games that kicks off next month - topped the world’s cities by visitor numbers for the second consecutive year.
Paris took second place, followed by Bangkok, Singapore and Istanbul.
A compiler of the report and global economic adviser for MasterCard Worldwide, Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, said that the changing global dynamics were reflected in the index through the inclusion of emerging-market Asian cities among the top 20.