Cape Town - 130101 - Fireworks explode over the V&A Waterfront as New Year's rolls in. Thousands braved the wind and the cold to party at the Waterfront on New Year's Eve but the wind caused the 5fm party to be cancelled for safety reasons. - Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Growth in Cape Town’s tourism industry remained steady towards the end of last year, with the V&A Waterfront being the biggest drawcard for local and international visitors.

There are signs of a revival in the city’s construction industry, with an almost 48 percent year-on-year rise in the value of building plans completed between July and September.

According to the quarterly report by the city’s Economic Information and Research unit, Cape Town accounts for more than 70 percent of the province’s economic output.

It has a relative comparative advantage over other cities because of its tourism appeal, with knock-on effects for the retail sector. The city also has the second-busiest container port and airport in the country.

According to the report, the city’s future growth will depend on its ability to realise the opportunities associated with industries where it has a comparative advantage – tourism, finance and business services.

The city is also able to attract new investment.

“The city’s large spend on new infrastructure, refurbishment and maintenance of existing infrastructure has created the platform for a growing economy,” said Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for economic, environmental and spatial planning.

Wesgro facilitated three major investments to the value of R219.4 million during the quarter under review.

A sizeable portion was invested in the media and advertising sector, with a spend of R56.4m and the creation of about 2 000 jobs.

The study recorded a growth in the number of building applications submitted to the city compared to the same period for 2012 and 2011.

While this was useful for establishing confidence in the local economy, a review of the number of building plans that were actually completed during this time reflected the actual construction activity in the city.

It could take up to five years for building work to be done after the plans were first approved.

The value of building plans completed for this period was R3.8 billion, a year-on-year growth rate of 47.8 percent.

Most of these plans were for non-residential developments, with a value of R1.28bn, indicating the boom on commercial developments across the city.

South Africa remains a premier tourist destination in Sub-Saharan Africa and 789 168 foreign tourists visited South Africa in July last year.

Europe remains the biggest source market of tourists, with the second-largest number coming from the US.

The quarterly report identified the city’s top six tourist destinations: Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Boulders Beach, Cape of Good Hope National Park, the V&A Waterfront and Robben Island.

The Waterfront attracted almost 90 percent of the total number of visits to these six attractions.

“The Waterfront undisputedly outperforms (in terms of visitor numbers) any of the other major tourist attractions in Cape Town.” Table Mountain National Park was the second most visited spot.

But overall, all six of the main attractions continued to show increased popularity with an annual increase of 18.9 percent in the total number of visitors for this period. - Cape Argus