Audrey D’Angelo


South Africa’s membership of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group of countries was paying off in terms of increased tourism, as well as business travel to this country, Nombulelo Mfeka, the City of Cape Town tourism director, said yesterday.

She said at the annual business tourism conference organised by Cadak Media that last year visitor numbers from Brazil, India and China had increased, with 44 percent of those from Brazil on holiday and 35 percent on business.

Their average stay had been seven days and average spend R12 800. The majority of Chinese visitors – 43 percent – had been on business and 38 percent on holiday.

They had stayed an average of five days and spent an average of R18 400 each. Among Indian visitors, 66 percent were in the country on business and 11 percent on holiday. On average, they stayed six days and spent R15 400.

Despite the economic troubles, Mfeka said there had been 5.5 percent growth in world tourism between January and April and 45 million tourists were expected to have travelled between May and the end of this month.

The continued strength of tourism was particularly important in the current climate because of its capacity to drive growth and create jobs, and South Africa had strong policies in place to support it.

But Mfeka pointed out that domestic tourism was the mainstay of every market and special events were helping to counter the problem of seasonality that affected the industry in Cape Town. It was essential, however, for local communities to benefit from it.

Tourism growth would make jobs sustainable all year round instead of many workers being offered temporary jobs for the season, and this would encourage employers to offer training to raise standards.

Jonathan Jacobs, the chairman of the Cape Chamber of Trade and Industries international trade and tourism partnership, said that golf, as well as events such as the Pick n Pay cycle tour – which made March the second-busiest month of the year – could help to combat the problem of seasonality.

Golf players were not deterred by winter weather and could be attracted by partnerships with golf estates.

Packages combining visits to the Western Cape with game parks in other parts of this country or even the Victoria Falls could also bring visitors out of season.

Discussing the increase in tourists from China and India, he said Chinese visitors wanted special tours that would give them bragging rights on their return home. As an example, instead of simply advertising a golfing holiday they could be lured by the offer of a game with a celebrity player like Ernie Els.