Picture: Matthew Jordaan
CAPE TOWN - Cape Town is fast positioning itself as a tourism hub for the rest of South Africa and Africa, which in turn will help boost the city's economy.

This is according to Lance Greyling, the City of Cape Town's director of enterprise and investment.

Greyling was part of a panel discussion on unlocking the tourism potential of Africa on the opening day of the first World Travel Market (WTM) Africa 2018 travel and tourism conference, currently under way at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Despite the drought, the reason that tourism was booming was due to the Cape Town Air Access project,  which was a public/private partnerships, which facilitated more flights to the city.

"This was formed about three years ago, housed in Wesgro but it's a real collaboration between Wesgro, the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism, the provincial government and the private sector. We have actually over the last two years been able to bring in more than 700 000 extra seats into Cape Town," said Greyling.
He said this equated to about 14 more direct flights coming into Cape Town. The project was fast positioning the city in a very big way as a tourism gateway not only to South Africa, but to Africa.

"A  lot of those direct flights are not only with the rest of the world  as in Europe and ...Hong Kong, but ... with a lot of African destinations. I think there is one now to Kigali, there is one that Air Kenya does between here (Cape Town) and stops at Victoria Falls and then goes on to Nairobi. 

Cape Town International Airport was also expanding by putting in an extra runway and realigning it to accommodate bigger aircraft.

"We really believe that Cape Town is fast becoming this destination of choice and that certainly is going to help boost the tourist numbers. Just this year we have seen a 7 percent increase in international arrivals as well and this has been a particularly tough year as well as we had to battle against the water crisis which obviously has had a bit of a negative impact internationally, but we we've still been able to grow our international arrivals even in those circumstances."

Greyling said the city's projection over the next five years foresaw that about 55 percent of the hotel rooms that were being built in South Africa would be built in Cape Town.
"There is a number of big projects on the books, but there is also more room for expansion. We will continue to drive this airlift ,or air access project, so that we can get more tourists... so that we can actually get more investment in the tourism space," he said.

Greyling said another issue was around inclusive growth.

"We believe that another aspect of inclusive growth is about trying to find innovative ways of taking tourists to where the poorer areas are so that you can actually stimulate entrepreneurship programmes," he said.