Good summer for Western Cape tourism

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Cape Town – The Western Cape tourism sector has experienced one of its best summer seasons, with international visitor arrivals up 29.8 percent.

Briefing the Western Cape standing committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture on seasonal tourism statistics for the province, Wesgro, the province's official tourism and investment promotion agency, said the December period was a bumper season for the province.

Wesgro’s Cornelis van der Waal said bookings were done between three and six months in advance, and were mostly for stays in excess of two weeks.

Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) also achieved tremendous growth last year serving just over 10 million passengers.

In 2015, the airport counted in excess of the 9.4 million passengers which passed through its doors and last year, mere days before the New Year.

According to the tourism agency, visitors were particularly interested in self-catering accommodation options for families or groups between four and six passengers, for about two to three nights while most visitors showed a rapid move to outdoor adventure activities like running and cycling.

Wine estates and restaurants were running at full capacity with statistics pointing to house swapping options being popular during the summer season.

An increase in visitors from Gauteng, interested in adventure and outdoor tourism, like camping were also recorded.

There was also an increase in visitors from Namibia and Zimbabwe, with the United States of America being the largest source market in December last year.

Visitors, however, highlighted the need for trading hours and service levels to be consistent throughout with province, with some expecting extended hours in the regions outside Cape Town.

Cape Town is still perceived as expensive, with returning visitors shortening their city stay and opting to extend their vacation to regions of the province.

Safety and security was not a major concern for visitors during the summer season, but some listed the need for road signage with clear emergency contact numbers, as key for improvement, especially in the smaller towns.

Both ride-sharing service, Uber, and accommodation sharing website, AirBnB, made presentations to the committee. Demand for Uber has exploded since it launched in South Africa in 2013.

While safety concerns were raised about the Uber service, the company stressed that this was a top priority.

Committee Chairperson Beverley Schäfer said tourism is one of Project Khulisa’s key strategic focus sectors to ensure economic growth in the Western Cape.

“Together with a collaborative approach with all stakeholders in the sector – Wesgro Air Access Strategy, DTI, ACSA, Cape Town Tourism and disruptors such as AIRBnB and Uber, leads to greater economic growth and employment opportunities for the people of the province,” she said.

Schäfer said the provincial government remained committed to growing tourism in the province and to welcoming visitors from across the spectrum. - SAnews.gov.za-TLM

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