Nairobi to see 1.8 million tourists in 2012

A Kenya Airways Boeing 777-2U8/ER – Image: André Wadman

By Nicholas Pescod – AfricanBrains

When it comes to travelling in Africa, Nairobi, Kenya is about to become the fourth most travelled city in the continent for 2012.

According the 2012 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, it has predicted that 1.8 million people are expected to visit the Kenyan city this year. Those nearly 2 million tourists will generate roughly $1.5 billion into Nairobi’s economy.

Vice President and Market Manager of East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands for MasterCard Worldwide, Charlton Gordema said the projected numbers solidify Nairobi’s status as an economic hub for Africa.

“A key finding of the Index is that Nairobi ranks fourth out of 13 cities surveyed in Africa – both in terms of visitor numbers and visitor spend – highlighting its status as the financial heart of the East African region and a significant African economic hub,” Gordema said.

“The Kenyan government’s identification of air transport capacity being vital to the continued growth of the country’s economy and the resulting investment in upgrading Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is now yielding results, as can be seen in the Index.”

According to, Nairobi will enjoy a 10 per cent growth in visitor numbers from last year. Visitor spending is estimated to increase by as much as 16.7 per cent from 2011.

Approximately 203,000 people from London are expected to visit the Kenyan capital this year, while nearly 150,000 people from Amsterdam will also embark to the city. An estimated 138,000 people from Johannesburg will also make the journey to the East African city.

Other African cities surveyed by the Index include Accra, Beira, Cairo, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dakar, Durban, Johannesburg, Kampala, Lagos, Maputo, and Tunis.

Beating out Nairobi in terms of visitor numbers for 2012 were African cities, Cairo, with rough an expected 3.3 million visitors, Johannesburg with an expected 2.5 million visitors, and Casablanca with an expected 2.1 million visitors.

To put those numbers into perspective, according to the Toronto Star New York City saw over 50.5 million tourists in 2011, Los Angeles brought in 27.5 million people to their city and Toronto drew about 9.8 million in the same year.

While Nairobi is nowhere the tourist attraction to that of New York City, London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris or Toronto, the city climbed 13 on the worlds top 20 fastest growing destinations cities by visitor numbers.

132 global cities are rated by the Index for their total international visitor arrivals and the cross-border spending by visitors in those destination cities. It also gives visitor and passenger growth forecasts for 2012.

Sources: & Toronto Star

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Nicholas Pescod attended Iroquois Ridge High School in Oakville, Ontario and graduated in 2007. After deciding to return for an extra semester of high school he attended the University of Guelph in 2008. In 2009 he transferred from University into Centennial College’s journalism program and graduated in 2012. Pescod has been a contributor to the East-Toronto Observer, and he currently contributes to the North Shore News’ entertainment section. While at Centennial College he created Radio Nation, a weekly Internet radio show with a focus on indie music. Since Radio Nation began in November of 2010 there have been over 70 different live guests. In 2011 Pescod received a Global Citizenship award from Centennial for his work on Radio Nation. The show has regular listeners from around the world. Email: