Lagos has emerged as the 4th most visited city in Africa for the year 2014, up 5.8 percent from last year. Based on results carried out by MasterCard as presented on its Global Destinations Cities Index, Lagos was projected to have 1.3 million visitors this year compared to the 1.25 million international visitors last year. The expenditure by visitors increased $26 million from $684 million last year to $710 million this year. The increase comes as good news in a year that has been filled with mixed results for the City. As Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos benefited from Nigeria’s status as the largest economy in Africa, but just a few months afterward, the first case of Ebola was recorded in a Lagos hospital, and this came with widespread pessimism and a drop in the number of international visits.
The index provides an annual ranking of 132 of the most important destination cities in the world, by generating estimates of the total number of international visitors to each of these cities each year, their cross border-spending in these cities, and breakdown of their number of feeder cities.
Cairo placed third on the list with a projected 1.4 million visitors, while South African cities Johannesburg and Capetown placed first and second with 4.3 million and 1.6 million visitors respectively. Casablanca placed fifth on the list. On the global scene, London (18.7 million), Bangkok (16.4 million), Paris (15.57 million), Singapore (12.47 million), Dubai (11.95 million) and New York (11.81 million) occupied the first to sixth positions.
International visits into the country are primarily driven by corporate travel, and the main source markets for Nigeria have consistently been the UK, the USA, Canada and South Africa. With the increasing infrastructural developments that are planned in the short term, Lagos is expected to continue attracting international businesses. The State Government proposing a new international airport close to Epe to complement the existing airport at Ikeja, work has commenced on the development of the Lekki Deep Seaport in Ibeju, which intends to support the Lekki Free Trade Zone. Another ongoing project is the light rail lines expected to connect the four corners of the city.
The private sector has not been left out in the push to upgrade and reduce the infrastructural deficit in Lagos, it should be recalled that earlier this year Dangote Group committed to invest a combined $5 billion by 2019 with an international venture in power projects and oil & gas ventures in Lagos and other cities in sub-Saharan Africa. The two other parties in the Joint venture are the Washington-based Carlyle Group, and New-York based Blackstone.
The real estate development space is also experiencing a lot of activity. 2014 has seen an increase in the delivery and planned construction of Class A offices within Victoria Island and Ikoyi. Additionally, construction work on the Eko Atlantic City is still ongoing. The hospitality and leisure sector has also experienced significant increases in supply over the past few years, despite the long list of planned projects. This sector is largely under-developed and many opportunities await for those who are able to get the product right.