The Cape Town tourism sector is reporting a marked improvement in traffic at restaurants, shops, and attractions for the month of December, and the accommodation sector is also reporting a positive holiday upswing.
Following a mid-December poll of Cape Town Tourism members, where over half of respondents expected a marginally better summer season this year (when compared with that of summer 2010-2011), tourism numbers seem to be improving beyond what was initially anticipated, and there is every indication that Cape Town has seen the start of a very positive peak season.
Actual statistics across the board are not yet available, but Cape Town International Airport reported an earlier start to the season this year with a 14 percent increase in international arrivals compared with November 2010. An 11.7 percent increase was felt in regional arrivals, and a 3.6 percent increase was noticed in domestic arrivals during November 2011. January and February are traditionally peak months for international arrivals, and a steady year-on-year increase in international tourists is expected, too.
Major Cape Town attractions reported a noticeable increase in international and national tourists during December, but the majority of the visitors hailed from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape. Last-minute bookings also picked up sharply during this time. The V&A Waterfront recorded more than 3 million visitors during December, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway saw more than 100,000 visitors throughout the past month, and the City Sightseeing Bus reported a busy festive season with their famous red top busses running at full capacity during December.
Due to increased supply in the accommodation sector, some Cape Town hotels were not running at full capacity, however, many accommodation establishments on the Atlantic Seaboard, particularly in Camps Bay, as well as in the city center were booked to capacity between Christmas and New Year. Travelers visiting friends and relatives often stay with them in private accommodation – explaining the marked increase in arrivals by road. In addition, all rental cars in Cape Town were booked between December 20-31, 2011.
While improvements in occupancy were shared by a range of accommodation establishments and attractions, it is evident that budget travel is becoming increasingly important. It is imperative that establishments and tourism businesses price according to their respective target markets, provide excellent service to all visitors and offer value-added services that leave visitors feeling that their money was well spent.
Now, more than ever before, travelers are prepared to shop around for good deals and are taking heed of online user-generated tools, such as Tripadvisor, when plotting stays and experiences.
Cape Town was named Tripadvisor’s number one destination in 2011 and, having been rewarded with accolades such as World Design Capital 2014 and the naming of Table Mountain as one of the New7Wonders of the Nature, the “Mother City” is already enjoying a high level of exposure. It is essential that Cape Town uses these awards to build on the domestic and international marketing of the city. Cape Town won Africa’s Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Ceremony in 2011.
Communications Manager at Cape Town Tourism, Skye Grove, commented: “On the back of one of the worst winters in a decade, Cape Town’s tourism industry is by no means out of the woods, yet the industry’s positive feedback on December is very encouraging. We have had some good weather, which plays an important role in dispersing visitors across the Peninsula and greater Metropole as they seek beaches and nature reserves.
“What’s even more encouraging is to note that major attractions such as Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, the V&A Waterfront, and the City Sightseeing Bus report a noteworthy number of Capetonians being tourists in their own city, who are contributing meaningfully to tourism spend over the festive season. It is essential that our own citizens enjoy their city as much as visitors do.”
Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, points out that: “Tourism is a major contributor to the country’s economy, and its low barrier to entry and diverse skills set provides excellent opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMMEs. Cape Town is focused on attracting more domestic visitors and visitors from new markets to boost our long-standing relationships with our key source markets.”