Last year, 2.6 million international passengers were recorded by Cape Town International Airport, representing a 9.6 percent growth from 2017. File Photo: IOL

CAPE TOWN – Last year, 2.6 million international passengers were recorded by Cape Town International Airport, representing a 9.6 percent growth from 2017 despite the drought and other problems experienced by the region, the City of Cape Town said on Sunday.

"This growth came from long-haul carriers from outside the Southern African region and the uptick bodes well for the local economy," mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said.  

Overall passenger numbers grew from 10 693 063 in 2017 to 10 777 524 in 2018, equating to an increase of 84 000 additional passengers passing through the airport – a growth rate of 0.8 percent.

There was a slight decline of 1.4 percent in domestic passengers for the year. In the month of December 2018, international passenger numbers grew by 3.7 percent, while domestic passenger numbers declined by 0.8 percent, year-on-year, he said.

These numbers included all traffic through the domestic and international terminals (arrivals and departures), and may include repeat travellers throughout the year.

"The City of Cape Town is delighted at the growth in international passenger numbers for 2018. The busy peak season and tourism growth to the region is encouraging in terms of sustainability, especially following what has been a challenging time for the tourism sector. More visitors mean increased benefits for the city and its residents," Vos said.  

Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Beverley Schafer said, "It’s no secret that the tourism industry was hard hit by the drought last year, but reports from many of our tourist offices have been largely positive and we look forward to working with the industry in 2019 to ensure that this sector continues to grow, as it is an important creator of jobs in the province."

"Cape Town International Airport is experiencing a busy peak season and it’s been good to have the seasonal carriers back. Although being busy, the airport value chain is continuously playing their part to ensure that a memorable experience is created for visitors. Although the passenger numbers are increasing and there is pressure on the system, our focus remains on providing a quality airport facility," Cape Town International Airport general manager Deon Cloete said.

Wesgro chief executive Tim Harris said: "The Cape Town Air Access initiative, a partnership between the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape government, Airports Company South Africa, Wesgro, Cape Town Tourism, South African Tourism, and the private sector has helped land 13 new routes to Cape Town International Airport, adding over 1.5 million two-way seats to our destination. This has resulted in a R6 billion boost to our economy since 2015, as more tourists come to spend money in our city and province, and more cargo is traded through our airport."

Cape Town, with its iconic tourist attractions is a well-known destination globally. For the 17th year the city was voted the number one favourite city in Africa and Middle East for 2018 in Travel & Leisure’s 2018 readers' poll, and scooped the award for the city with the best growth potential. Cape Town International Airport, once again, won the award for Africa’s leading airport in 2018.

"These awards, among a host of other accolades, acknowledges our efforts and signifies a turn for tourism in Cape Town," Vos said.

African News Agency (ANA)