Tourist season all year

MATTHEW HIRSCH

After a succesful summer tourist season which saw overseas visitors flocking to the seaboard, the Camps Bay community are now looking at having off-season specials to attract more South Africans to the area.

David Raad, chairperson of the Camps Bay Business Forum, said it had been a positive summer for the area with lots of tourists.

He said the Camps Bay Business Forum had spoken about having seasonal specials and more winter events to attract people in the off-season, especially Capetonians.

“Camps Bay is very seasonal and when you look at businesses such as guest houses and restaurants, a big percentage of the turnover comes from visitors,” he said.

Linzi Smyth, manager at Villa Surprise in Camps Bay, said it had been one of the best seasons they had experienced.

Ms Smyth, who is also on the Camps Bay Guest House Association committee, said they had been doing discounts for local tourists.

National Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, announced his R2 billion tourism budget in Parliament last week.

He said in January over one million tourists arrived in South Africa, 15% more than in January last year. February brought an incredible 18% increase.

MEC for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, said the tourism sector was vital to the local Cape Town economy and that in the last year it created 200 000 jobs. “Our plan hasn’t changed and we are looking to create a further 100 000 jobs this year,” he told the Atlantic Sun this week.

“One of the things we will be focusing on is bringing in new airline markets into the city. Another one of our focuses is skills development.”

Mr Winde said it was also important to leverage assets such as Robben Island, Table Mountain and the ocean. “We are also in discussions with the City of Cape Town about setting up a Mandela statue, possibly near the City Hall and highlighting his legacy. It is something that is unique to Cape Town. Tourism is not just about hotels, tour guides and restaurants, it is the whole value chain that benefits. Tourism is a driver for all industries.”

Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, agreed that tourism played a vital role in the local economy. “Tourism has been one of the important growth areas since 1994 and we now have more visitors than ever before. It brings new money into the country. Tourism is especially important because it is a service industry and that means it creates a wide variety of jobs for both skilled and unskilled workers. Cape Town, itself, is a great tourism magnet because of its natural beauty, pleasant climate and excellent infrastructure and the services on offer.”

Ms Myburgh added that figures for the current summer season in Cape Town had been positive. The number of international passengers arriving at Cape Town International Airport show a steady increase with 175 000 in March.

“However, these numbers do not tell the whole story for many more arrive in Johannesburg and take a domestic flight to Cape Town or drive down in a hired car.”

One of the main aims, says Ms Myburgh, is to extend the tourist season and make Cape Town a year-round destination. “Events like the Cycle Tour, the Cape Epic, the Two Oceans Marathon, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the conference industry do this very well but we probably need more big events.

Year round attractions reduce the seasonal nature of tourism and make the whole industry more viable.”

Garreth Bloor, the City’s Mayco member for tourism, events and economic development, said of 1 745 300 foreign arrivals to the Western Cape, just over 94 percent (1 645 469) chose Cape Town as their holiday destination.

“The domestic tourism market also remained buoyant, with 863 351 visitors making their way to the city, representing an increase of just over 191 000.

“Domestic spend on day trips to Cape Town in 2013 was R3.2 billion (first time this has been identified). This was not on accommodation, but on the city’s attractions, restaurants, local transport, and shopping, among others. At R3.2 billion per year, this is a significant contribution to the economy of Cape Town.”

According to Mr Bloor, the City is looking to tackle the challenge of seasonality and redress the perception that the summer or high season is the best time to visit Cape Town.

“Many hotels and other places of accommodation have better rates in the low season, and restaurants also have specials on. Tourism businesses and attractions constantly have to reinvent themselves to stay ahead of the game and innovation is key when it comes to keeping up with international trends, and responsible tourism is a focus for us too.

“We are about to enjoy even more international focus when the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) opens at the V&A Waterfront later on in 2016 and there’s already quite a buzz about this from as far afield as France, Germany and the UK.”.”