South African tourism has received a welcome boost with the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway recording a marked rise in visitor numbers since the Mountain was named one of the provisional New 7 Wonders of Nature in November 2011.
The official inauguration of Table Mountain as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature only takes place on Sunday, December 22, 012, but the impact of this honor is already being felt with the Cableway witnessing record numbers in December 2011, January and February 2012, and overall numbers for the year close to 2007 when tourism to South Africa was booming.
Sabine Lehmann, Cableway MD and Chairperson of the Table Mountain Official Supporters Committee, said both local and international tourists were adding the New 7 Wonders of Nature sites to their “bucket lists” and this had resulted in remarkable increases in visitor numbers. Iguazu Falls, Argentina, Brazil, visitors increased from 1 million to 1.7 million per year, while flights to access the Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Philippines had risen from 3 to 22 per day to cope with the demand.
“Komodo has seen an increase in visitor numbers from 20,000 to 50,000 per year,” Lehmann said, “While Jeju Island has witnessed an 86% increase in tourism from China, with 52% of visitors interviewed saying they knew about the New 7 Wonders of Nature status and of those 75% said it was the reason they had come to Jeju.”
South Africa stands to benefit more than its 6 rivals because Table Mountain is the most accessible of the New 7 Wonders and is the only one to be found in a city. “Cities are constantly trying to find ways to differentiate themselves and ensure they are top of mind when travelers make plans, and Cape Town is the only city that has a new 7 Wonders of Nature in its midst,” Lehmann said.
“Being the most accessible is a strong point, as one can sit in town and have a coffee while gazing at a New 7 Wonder of Nature. This is not possible at any of the other sites where one has to make a pilgrimage to the site,” she said.
Lehmann said South Africa would benefit from “The Power of 7,” which is unique to being part of the New 7 Wonders of Nature family. “As part of this exclusive group, South Africa will be talked about across the globe as sites promote themselves and the rest of the New 7 Wonders of Nature,” she added.
She encouraged tourism marketing organizations to use the New 7 Wonders of Nature status to promote Cape Town and South Africa as a world-class tourist destination. “The other sites have embraced this accolade and title, including it in all their tourism marketing,” Lehmann said.
The official inauguration of Table Mountain takes place in Cape Town on Sunday, December 2, with 52 delegates including international media from the other 6 sites in attendance. “This is an opportunity for South Africa to market itself as a tourism destination to delegates from countries like Peru, Vietnam, and Argentina,” Lehmann said.
The New 7 Wonders of Nature are Table Mountain, the Amazon in South America, Halong Bay in Vietnam, Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Komodo in Indonesia, Puerto Princesa Underground River in Philippines, and Jeju Island in Korea.