The Nelson Mandela Bridge in Joburg lit in blue to mark World Diabetes Day. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Joburg will be the second most visited destination city in Africa, with a projected 2.5 million international visitors expected to enter the city this year.

This is according to the latest MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released by the company this week.

In addition, international visitors are expected to spend more while visiting Joburg than any other destination city on the continent, with $3.3 billion (R28bn) estimated to be injected into the city this year, an increase of 8.1 percent on last year’s figures.

“This is the second instalment of this MasterCard Index, which is used as a barometer for understanding the global economy and the dynamic flow of commerce across the world,” said Dries Zietsman, country manager, MasterCard Worldwide, SA.

“The Index ranks 132 global cities by their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by visitors in the destination cities.

“It also forecasts visitor and passenger growth for 2012.”

Thirteen African cities were ranked within the 132 cities including Cairo, Joburg, Casablanca, Accra, Nairobi, Beira, Cape Town, Dakar, Durban, Kampala, Lagos, Maputo, and Tunis.

Looking at international visitor expenditure in the African cities surveyed for this year, Cairo takes second place after Joburg, with the city expecting to attract $3bn in cross-border spending followed by Casablanca at $1.9bn.

The three cities where most visitors to Joburg originate from are London (328 000 people), Frankfurt (196 000 people) and Dubai (166 500 people).

Combined, these visitors are expected to inject $975 million into the city’s economy in terms of cross-border this year.

In more detail, Londoners are expected to spend $638m during 2012 (an average of $1 945 a person), those from Frankfurt will spend $182m (an average $929 per person) while Dubai visitors will spend $155m (an average of $930 a person).

Interestingly, 143 000 visitors are expected to travel to Joburg from Paris – however, they will spend an anticipated $332m in the city, a substantial amount compared with visitor numbers and an average of $2 320 per person – the highest average spend per person of all visitors.

“The Index also reveals the destination cities to which those from Joburg are travelling, and it was found that in most cases they are opting for African destinations before they travel overseas,” said Zietsman. “Four of the top five outbound destinations for Joburg travellers are within Africa.

“Windhoek and Nairobi are the top two outbound travel destinations; London comes in third, followed by Harare and Luanda.”

In addition to Joburg, Durban and Cape Town were also surveyed.

The Index reveals that Durban will be the fastest growing city in Africa for visitor numbers and expenditure, and is predicted to be the second fastest growing city of all the 132 cities surveyed worldwide , with a projected 33.3 percent growth in the number of international visitors and 41.3 percent growth in visitor expenditure in 2012 – albeit off a low base.

Looking at Cape Town, the majority of international visitors to the Mother City are from London, with 185 000 visitors expected to spend $361m throughout the year.

This is followed by 127 500 travellers from Dubai spending $118m, and 76 000 visitors from Amsterdam spending $68m. - Saturday Star