The Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Johannesburg - Johannesburg is set to be the most popular destination city in Africa for the fourth year, according to the 2016 Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index.

The city is expected to welcome 3.6 million international overnight visitors in 2016, a 6.2 percent increase on last year’s 3.39 million visitors.

Cairo in Egypt is the second most visited African city with 1.5 million international overnight visitors followed by Cape Town (1.4 million visitors), Casablanca in Morocco (1 million visitors), and Durban (831 000 visitors).

“Tourism remains an important driver of South Africa’s economy, and the steady rise in visitor numbers indicates how the City of Gold’s fascinating mix of iconic attractions is proving ever more compelling to today’s international traveller,” says Mark Elliott, Division President, South Africa, Mastercard.

“Visitor spend is an increasingly important source of revenue for the city’s hospitality, retail, transport, sports and cultural sectors.”

The Index provides more than a ranking of the 132 most visited cities around the world. It projects visitor volume and spend estimates for the 2016 calendar year, while delivering a deeper understanding of how people travel and spend around the world.

The 13 African cities ranked in the Index are Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Cairo, Casablanca, Accra, Nairobi, Beira, Dakar, Kampala, Lagos, Maputo and Tunis.

Of Johannesburg’s expected international overnight visitors, 373 000 will travel from London in 2016. Harare (294 000), Frankfurt (233 000), Maputo (185 000) and Paris (163 000) round out the list.

Adapted from a press release for IOL