Nairobi lags behind Uganda, Senegal and Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of international visitor arrivals, Mastercard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index has revealed.

The survey which ranked 162 top global travel destinations in 2017 put Nairobi’s visitor volume at 400,000, some 1.1 million visitors less than what Sub-Sahara’s top travel destination Lagos registered over the same period.

The analysis released on Wednesday showed that Lagos received 1.5 million international overnight visitors in 2017 followed by Dakar with 800,000, Kampala with 500,000 while Accra Ghana tied with Nairobi with 400,000 visitors.

According to the survey, every visitor to Lagos spent an average of seven days in the city with an average spend of $57 (Sh5,700) per day.

This means Lagos raked in an estimated Sh60 billion over the period under review.

“Visitors to Lagos, are most often from the USA, United Kingdom and China,” the report said.

Whereas visitors to Nairobi spent more nights on average (13), the survey indicated that every tourist spent only an average of $50, (Sh5,000), $7 less than what their counterparts spent in Lagos.

This, therefore, means Kenya made Sh26 billion from overnight international visitors.

Although Kampala had fewer visitors than Nairobi (500), who spent half the number of days that visitors spent in Nairobi (7), tourists in Kampala spent more money than all the top five destinations in Sub-Sahara Africa – $168 (16,800) per day

This means as East Africa’s leading international arrivals hotspots, Uganda made Sh58.8 billion.

Senegal, which registered the second highest arrivals (800,000), with the highest daily spend of $165 (Sh16,500) with an average stay of 2.3 nights per visitor made an estimated Sh30.4 billion.


Accra, which registered the second highest stays per visitor (10.5) with the third highest daily spend raked in an average of Sh55.4 billion over the period under review.

Bangkok was ranked the top spot globally with 20.05 million visitors each spending an average of 4.7 nights and spending $173 on average.

The report said Bangok is likely to retain the edge against its rivals in 2018 as projected growth stands at 9.6 per cent.

“Paired with both the affordability and visitor’s willingness to spend, Bangkok is seen as more affordable than Paris or Singapore but pricier than London, which holds the number two spot,” noted the report.

It said Dubai remains to be the top ranking destination city based on overnight visitor spend, with visitors spending a whopping $537 (Sh53,700) per day on average.

Dubai is joined in the top 10 with Makkah, Saudi Arabia; Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Phuket, Thailand.

On average Makkah made $18.45 billion, London made $17.45 billion, Singapore $17.02 billion while Bangok raked in $16.36 billion.

Executive vice president, global cities for Mastercard Miguel Gamiño Jr said international travel remains crucial to many urban economies as it contributes to enriching the lives of both residents and tourists.

He said the bar is rising and cities need to innovate to prive both a memorable and authentic experience for visitors to remain attractive.

“We’re partnering closely with cities around the world to ensure they have insights and technologies to improve how they attract and cater to tourists while preserving what makes them so special in the first place,” Gamiño Jr said.

Istanbul is expected to register the highest visitor upshoot in 2018.

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