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The Global Destination Index: Most visited African cities

Following World Tourism Day, we take a look at Africa’s most visited cities according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released in September 2017. This index provides a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world.



MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index is based on travel spend and visitor volume, including the number of international overnight visitors. The analysis of these factors provides a forecast for the next year’s growth, insight into the fastest growing destination cities and a grasp on travel trends and habits.

“We are 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,’‘ executive vice president at MasterCard, Miguel Gamino, said in a statement.

Global cities like Bangkok, London and Paris were ranked for their robust infrastructure, which facilitates business and leisure travel, while cities on the African continent, like Lagos, Dakar and Kampala, were named among the top destination cities for their strong local culture.

“Lagos is the top spot in sub-Saharan Africa this year, with roughly 1.5 million international overnight visitors,” the report states.


Read: Six African countries on the 2018 list of least liveable cities in the world

The top African cities were ranked as follows:

1. Lagos: 1.5 million visitors

2. Dakar: 0.8 million visitors

3. Kampala: 0.5 million visitors


3. Nairobi: 0.4 million visitors

4. Accra: 0.4 million visitors

Lagos is ranked first for receiving millions of international visitors from Europe and Asia every year as a preferred destination for its cultural heritage, nature, cuisine and people. It is however notable that visitors tend to stay in Lagos for seven nights and spend only $57 per day, on average, which is considerably less than its Sub Saharan Africa counterparts. Another interesting factor is that Nairobi, assumed to be a tourist hotspot in Africa, has the lowest spend per day in the region averaging only $50.

Updated on 3rd October 2018