Abuja not featured in ranking of top most visited cities in the world

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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This has been the questions from Nigerians and the rest of the world.

Despite Abuja being the seat of the government, still not featured among the ranking of 100 most popular cities with international visitors in 2019. Why?

Ranked Most visited Cities While the likes of  Egypt’s  Red Sea resort town Hurghada, Johannesburg in South Africa and Marrakech in Morocco made the list.

Dubai, the favourite destination by some Nigerians is 7th among  the top 10. Hong Kong despite its crisis in the last few months is number one, followed by Bangkok, Macau, Singapore, London, paris.

India’s capital Delhi, Turkey’s commercial capital of Istanbul and Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur make up the rest of the Top 10 most visited cities in the world, according to the rankings published today, by  UK-based market research consultancy Euromonitor International.

Dubai received  16.3 million international arrivals, beating Istanbul, Kuala Lampur and New York with 14.7m, 14.1m and 14m visitors.

“Dubai continues to lead the [Middle East] region in terms of numbers of arrivals, despite a flat growth rate during 2018,” the report said. “A free transit visa for two days for Dubai and Abu Dhabi helped to sustain arrival numbers.” Saudi Arabian cities, such as Mecca or Makka, Riyadh and Medina are in the top 50 destinations. Mecca is No. 20, Medina 23, Riyadh 49th. Damman is 64th.

Johannesburg tops most favoured destination in Africa. It is 54th in the ranking, followed by Marrakech at 75th. Egypt’s tourist city of Hurgada is 82nd. Globally, inbound arrivals are expected to grow 4.2 per cent this year to 1.5 billion trips in 2019. Euromonitor’s list shows tourism in Asia is outpacing other regions.

Asia accounts for 43 of the top 100 cities, rising steadily since 2013, because of higher income levels and the increasing number of Chinese as well as millennial travellers from Asian economies boosting intra-regional travel. Europe is the second biggest region that travellers visit in 2019, however, London dropped two places to fifth position because of uncertainty around Brexit.

North America performed well, but most American cities slipped in the study because of competition from Europe and Asia. Euromonitor’s list includes 13 Middle Eastern cities with the region posting an 8.7 per cent rise in tourist arrivals and 9.1 per cent increase in tourism earnings year-on-year in 2019.

Euromonitor’s research covers 400 cities around the world to examine international visitors who stay in the country for longer than 24 hours and less than 12 months. These arrivals include all purposes of visit, such as business, leisure and visiting friends and relatives. It excludes those in employment, who study abroad, military personnel, transportation crew, and people displaced because of war or natural disasters.

The 2019 rankings were calculated using estimated arrivals figure based on part-year data.

Reasons for Abuja Exemption

Just of recent, the National Police Chief, Mohammed Adamu has sought to allay concerns by saying that Abuja actually has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Is he right? Before we start looking at the numbers, it’s important to consider the reliability of Nigeria’s crime statistics.

Recent United Nations report analysed homicide statistics describe existing Nigerian data as “patchy and divergent”. Security experts have said many crimes go unreported in Nigeria because of distrust in the police, a lack of police presence on the ground, and a general feeling that reporting a crime will be unlikely to lead to redress.

The International Police Science Association, a group of security experts and researchers, ranks Nigeria bottom in a global index that measures factors including confidence in the police, corruption and security outcomes. So the likelihood is that official statistics would significantly under-report crime rates in Abuja and across Nigeria. Now, let’s look at the available data, starting with the recorded murder rate in Abuja compared with other major cities around the world.

Global city homicide rates Deaths per 100,000. Abuja and Lagos figures are murder rates, which don’t include non-intentional killing.

From the report of UNODC, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics On this measure, Abuja does not rate among the safest cities and there are plenty of other cities we could have chosen as comparisons to make the point. The government’s own data suggests that the murder rate in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, is lower per capita than it is in the capital, Abuja.

The Economist Intelligence Unit publishes an annual report on urban crime that ranks 60 cities across 57 indicators.

The safest ranked African city is Johannesburg in South Africa at 44. They haven’t included Abuja, but Lagos is at the bottom of this list.

There are certainly more crimes committed in Lagos than Abuja, three times as many per head of population, according to Nigerian official data for 2017.

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