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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  25 Mar 2012

TOURISM: The Cape's Best Summer Ever


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Increases in arrivals at the Cape Town International Airport (CTIA), George Airport as well as visitor numbers at popular attractions throughout the Western Cape in February further points to a bumper summer season for tourism in the province.

International arrivals at CTIA grew from 66 834 in February 2011 to 75 043 in February this year, a healthy 12.3% increase. Regional arrivals in February also went up by 22. 3% compared to 2011, from 4812 in February 2011 to 5884 this year.  The same applied to domestic arrivals which grew from 272 912 in February last year to 287 366 in 2012; an annual growth rate of 5.3 %.   At George airport February arrivals are up 7.9 % from 21788 in 2011 to 23 500 this year.

Visitor numbers at Cape Town’s Big Six Attractions (V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Constantia Vineyards, Robben Island and Cape Point) are also up in February.  At the Waterfront, visitor numbers are up by 2. 8%, from 1 769 013 in February 2011 to 1 819 423 this year. No less than 61 081 – an increase of 8. 2% on the 56 452 figure for 2011 - went through the turnstiles at Kirstenbosch Gardens.  We have had significant increases over several consecutive months now, and are definitely looking at one of our best tourism summers ever,” says Alan Winde, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism.

Sabine Lehman, CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (TMAC) is equally excited by the record performances of this iconic attraction this summer season. In February 2011 the TMAC attracted 77 222 visitors and this year the figure jumped to 81 219 – an increase of 5.2%: “Obviously the good summer weather and absence of strong winds were major contributors but I wouldn’t discount the effect of the publicity generated by the vote for Table Mountain campaign.  It is important that we build on these successes going into the future.”

After recording an increase of 6% in January, visitor numbers to Robben Island increased again by 4. 2% compared to February last year.  It is up from 31 989 last year to 33 321 in February this year. Robben Island is a World Heritage Site and thus it remains one of the top draw cards for visitors to our beautiful destination,” adds Sibongiseni Mkhize, CEO of the Robben Island Museum.

Save for a couple of the National parks, most of the attractions outside the city have seen an increase in visitor numbers. According to Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the sheer volume of visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape confirms its status as one of the top destinations in Africa.

After a slight decrease in December, tourist figures for the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn have gone up from 12 263 in February 2011 to 13 167 this year.  Figures for De Hoop Nature Reserve outside Bredasdorp have shot up by 64. 7% - from 1316 last year to 2075 in February this year.  At Agulhas National Park there was an increase of 22% in visitor numbers.

Minor decreases were experienced at West Coast National Park (-1.9%), Wilderness National Park (-10.5%) and Tsitsikamma National Park (-1.3%), but this was countered by increases at the Karoo and Bontebok National Parks (5.6% and 19.7% respectively). Table Mountain National Park recorded a 9.6% increase from 212 631 to 232 970 over the same February period.   Some of these declines can mainly be attributed to the fact that locals went back to school and work”, states Gilfellan.

Gilfellan pointed out that events and business tourism are two major drivers of tourism growth in the province:  “Most of the Cape’s iconic events take place between January and April. These events are major catalysts in drawing visitors to the province and are invaluable as they add significantly to the provincial coffers.  Seven of these events namely the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (R95.9 million), the Absa Cape Epic (R199 million), the J&B Met (R39.9 million) the Cape Argus Pick and Pay Cycle Tour (R450 million), the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (R80 million), the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (R498.6million) and the Wacky Wine Weekend in Robertson (R30 million) collectively attracts 467 700 participants and spectators, and contributes a whopping R1.39 billion to the Western Cape’s economy.

The conference, meetings and incentive industry plays a crucial role in fuelling this growth.  Whilst summer season figures were boosted by holiday visitors, CTRU’s Convention Bureau and its partners went quietly along with their business by securing no less than nine conferences in the past couple of months.  On the list are the prestigious European Systems Engineering Conference (2014), the International Travel Partnership Global Conference (2012) and the International Gynaecologic Cancer Society Regional Meeting on Gynaecologic Cancers (2014).  The collective estimated economic impact of these nine conferences is R70 million. 

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