Johannesburg and Cairo are the most popular tourist destinations in Africa

You’re welcome.
You’re welcome.
Image: Reuters/Mike Hutchings
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

South Africa’s major urban cities remain the most visited in the African continent, attracting millions of tourists, boosting local tourism and injecting billions of dollars into the economy, a new index shows.

Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are expected to attract close to six million visitors in 2016 alone, according to the newly-released 2016 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. The MasterCard index ranked 132 most visited countries in the world, with 13 African cities appearing in the list.

With 3.6 million visitors, Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, is set to be the most popular destination in Africa for the fourth year. Most of the international visitors to Johannesburg come from London, Harare, Frankfurt, Maputo and Paris, and are expected to spend $1.73 billion by end of 2016.

Across the continent, Cairo is the second most visited African city with 1.55 million visitors, while trips to cities like Casablanca in Morocco and Nairobi saw the highest annual growth at 14.5% and 12.3% respectively. Beira, Mozambique’s second largest city and home to the country’s busy port, also grew by 4.7% attracting close to 10,000 people.

Tourism is a major source of revenue for many African countries, and fears over terrorist attacks or political unrest have recently taken its toll on many countries, especially those in north and east Africa. Despite that, the continent’s hotel industry is witnessing a major boost, with $1.7 billion expected to be invested in hotels is Sub-Saharan Africa in 2017. South Africa has the most number of hotels in the region.

Globally, Bangkok, London, Paris, Dubai and New York were crowned as the most visited cities in the world.