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Durban, Africa’s Number One Tourist Destination

An index released Monday by Mastercard lists the coastal city of Durban, South Africa, as the fastest growing tourist market in Africa this year, based on number of visitors and money spent there. South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has said the country’s tourism industry had survived the worst of the global economic crisis. Almost 10 percent of South Africa’s employment is based in the tourism industry.

Mastercard’s global destination cities index, which surveys visitor and expenditure trends in 132 cities across the globe, found that the majority of Durban’s visitors came for work and business. Twelve other African cities were included in the index — Johannesburg, Casablanca, Accra, Nairobi, Beira, Cape Town, Dakar, Kampala, Lagos, Maputo, Cairo and Tunis.

“The Durban International Convention Centre provides the largest flat-floor, column-free exhibition and conferencing space in Africa, attracting many international exhibitors to the city,” Dries Zietsman, manager for MasterCard Worldwide in South Africa, said yesterday.

South African’s capital, Johannesburg, was noted as the second-most visited destination in Africa, and is projected to see 2.5 million foreign visitors before year’s end. Those same visitors are expected to spend almost $3 billion dollars while travelling, an 8 percent increase from last year.

Internationally, London, the host of this year’s Olympic Games, was listed as the most world’s most visited city for the second year in a row, with Paris coming in second. Bangkok, Singapore and Instanbul rounded out the top five. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, one of the report’s compilers and a global economic adviser for MasterCard Worldwide, said that the changing global dynamics were reflected in the index through the inclusion of emerging-market Asian cities among the top 20.

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