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Cairo among top 5 destination cities in Middle East and Africa in Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2016

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For the fifth consecutive year, Cairo sustains its rank among the top 5 destination cities in the Middle East and Africa region in terms of international overnight visitors according to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index for 2016.

Cairo – with a growth rate of 1.5% percent in the number of international overnight visitors from 2015-2016 – ranked 5th among the top 10 destination cities in the Middle East and Africa. This marks the fifth consecutive year Cairo has held the middle position in the category. According to the Index, overnight visitor spend in Cairo stands at US$ 1.1 billion in 2016, outpacing that of faster growing markets such as Cape Town (6.2% growth in overnight visitors and US$1.0 billion in spend) and Casablanca (14.5% growth in overnight visitors and $0.6 billion in spend).

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. As cross-border travel and spending continue to grow at a faster pace than the world GDP, the world’s cities continue to be engines of broader economic growth.

The Index reveals that 98.5% of visitors to Cairo are coming for leisure plus other purposes, with July-August cited as the peak months for visiting. Doha, Jeddah, and Amman are the top three feeder cities for Cairo, followed by London and Rome. However, visitors coming via Doha and Jeddah declined between 2015 and 2016, whereas visitors from London and Rome are growing at 27.4% and 21.2% respectively. Cairo also has a very diversified mix of visitors, with 82% from outside the region. In terms of countries, Russia leads with 32% of visitors, followed by UK and Germany both at 9%, Italy at 4% and Saudi Arabia at 3%.

“The findings of the Index show that Cairo is holding its own as a tourism destination in the Middle East and Africa region, specifically when it comes to leisure travel,” said Magdy Hassan, General Manager – Egypt and North Africa, MasterCard. “Tourism has been and will continue to be vital to the Egyptian economy. The impressive overnight visitor spend relative to other markets in the region is an indication of the resilience of the sector and continued demand for Egypt’s uniquely diverse tourism offerings. As visitors continue to travel to Egypt, reliable, safe, convenient payment options are a must. No other brand is more widely accepted by merchants than MasterCard. There are third-parties – such as the Nilson Report – who provide an estimated acceptance figure. The latest number we’ve seen is 43.3 million acceptance locations worldwide as of December 2015.”

Fastest Growing Destination Cities Unlock Growth Trends

The growth trajectories of many of the global destination cities are very dynamic and increasingly diverse, as many of them tapped into new sources of growth (feeder cities). Accordingly, this report features the fastest growing destination cities over the 2009 to 2016 period both globally and regionally.  At the global level, Asia/Pacific dominates overwhelmingly with 14 cities in the top 20, followed by Middle East & Africa which has four cities in the global top 20. More than half of these 20 cities are currently not among the global top 20. The fact that so many of the fastest growing destination cities are not among the top ranked today indicates strong and increasingly differentiated momentum of growth propelling many of these cities forward.

Over the seven-year period, Osaka showed the strongest growth in international visitors (24.5 percent). Other cities that made the Top 10 fastest growing destinations include:

  • Osaka – 24.50 percent
  • Chengdu – 20.14 percent
  • Abu Dhabi – 19.81 percent
  • Colombo – 19.57 percent
  • Tokyo – 18.48 percent
  • Riyadh – 16.45 percent
  • Taipei – 14.53 percent
  • Xi’an – 14.20 percent
  • Tehran – 12.98 percent
  • Xiamen – 12.93 percent

For the first time, the Index explores whether visitors travel for business or leisure, and provides insights into how international visitors are spending, including dining, lodging and shopping.  The 2016 Index shows that among the Top 20 cities, more people travel internationally for leisure, except to Shanghai. In terms of discretionary spending decisions, most visitors overwhelmingly spent more while shopping, except in Paris, New York, Barcelona and Amsterdam where dining was the top category.  Seoul topped the list for greatest percentage spent on shopping against all categories at 58.7 percent.

Identifying Regional Trends

The Index provides insight into top destination cities in each region, including:

  • Asia/Pacific –The region dominates both the global Top 10 (five cities) and Top 10 fastest growing destination cities (six cities).
  • Europe –London, ranked second globally and first in the region, is the top feeder city in terms of visitor and spending volume for all other cities that round out the top European destinations: Paris, Istanbul, Barcelona and Amsterdam.
  • Latin America –Lima is both the top destination and fastest growing city in the region, with 4.03 million visitors (ranked 32nd globally) and a growth rate of 9.9 percent (ranked 15th globally). However, the rankings are very different in terms of overnight visitor spend; Punta Cana leads the region with US$2.95 billion followed by Mexico City (US$2.27 billion).
  • Middle East and Africa – Dubai is the top ranked destination city in the region (ranked fourth globally), while Abu Dhabi is the fastest growing in the region with a growth rate of 81 percent.
  • North America –New York, ranked fifth globally, is the top destination city in the region. It significantly surpasses the rest of the region in overnight visitor spend at US$18.25 billion. Nearly 90 percent of New York’s international visitors are from outside North America, led by London, Paris, Sao Paulo and Beijing.

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