Mastercard Global Cities Destinations Index Says African Cities Must Adopt Holistic Approach to Tourism Growth

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African cities must adopt a holistic approach if they are to ensure sustainable growth within their respective tourism sectors a new report titled the ‘Mastercard Global Cities Destinations Index’ (GDCI) has revealed.

Tourism is a catalyst for economic growth in Africa, which was a key theme during the UN World Cities Day celebrated this week around the world.

“The sector is especially important now when governments are seeking out ways to drive diversification as part of their growth strategies,” said Mastercard Communications Head, Geraldine Grealey in a statement on behalf of the organisation.

The Index states that African cities need to find efficient ways to develop into smart cities capable to not only attract visitors, but also to offer unique experiences and overcoming growing infrastructure demands.

The Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index (GDCI) provides insight into the motivations and travel spend of visitors – a prime driver for development in the sector. The Index ranks 132 global destination cities in terms of visitor spend, and provides insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend their money around the world.

There were thirteen African cities ranked in the Index, indicating a great opportunity for tourism authorities to work together to better position the continents full and diverse offering. Cities ranked included Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos, Casablanca, Cairo, Durban, Accra, Dakar, Entebbe, Tunis, Nairobi, Maputo and Beira.

“Bangkok, a city that remained the top-ranked destination city by international overnight visitor arrivals with 19.4 million visitors in 2016 alone, provides a good case study on what cities in African can adopt,” said Grealey.

“Additionally London, with 19.06 million visitors, can be used as blueprints for future planning given their strong focus on mobility,” she continued.

GDCI indicates that more people than ever are visiting cities for business or leisure travel, and that at the same time, the research indicates that people expect their experience when traveling to be both seamless and personal.

As the report’s top destination city, Dubai sees over 14 million international overnight visitors, which is significantly higher than other cities in Africa, given its global positioning as a hot shopping destination.

The Mastercard report finds that for Africa to achieve higher visitor numbers, infrastructure and public transport is key.

“For highly attractive destination cities like Bangkok, London and Paris that top the list, ease of travel is a big factor in drawing visitors,” said Grealey.

The analysis said African countries must also look deeper at the purpose of travel and spending while building stronger cross sector partnerships.


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