BUSY: Cape Town International Airport has seen a surge of international arrivals, but local holidaymakers prefer road travel. Picture: City of Cape Town
Cape Town - Cape Town International Airport has seen a surge of international arrivals for December, although the airport recorded a slight dip in local air travellers as most domestic visitors opted to enter the Western Cape via land travel.

According to Airports Company South Africa, Cape Town International Airport registered 127309 international arrivals for December 2017, an 11.5% increase from December 2016, while domestic arrivals by air dipped slightly by 2.2% to 389324.

Wesgro, Cape Town and the Western Cape’s official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency, spoke to local tourism offices in the region to gain an initial idea of how the province performed this past December.

The agency said that as the season was still in full swing, official statistics would be published by South African Tourism later.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde welcomed initial reports of increases in regional trips. “More people are getting out onto the open road and exploring the diversity of attractions that are on offer across the province,” he said.

He added that key goals of Project Khulisa, the Western Cape government’s economic growth strategy, included more direct flights and spreading the returns of tourism across the region to create growth and jobs in rural areas.

“These results prove that we are having a positive impact. We have also received feedback from our towns that visitors have responded positively to our water savings message, with many bringing water from home. We would like to thank visitors for their efforts.

“I’m thrilled, too, that Knysna is having a good season, despite the fires of June.

“The majority of our tourism offices have noted that bookings are continuing to come in.”

Wesgro chief executive Tim Harris said the agency’s tourism team had been working hard to ensure that tourists explored the amazing attractions that the rest of the province has to offer.

“By getting out on the road and exploring our beautiful towns and communities in the Cape, tourists are helping grow local economies and create jobs in the most remote parts of the province.

“This is precisely why tourism is so valuable to our economy during these more challenging economic times and why Wesgro will continue to do everything possible to ensure the industry continues to grow.”

Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said Cape Town remained a popular destination because of its natural beauty, diverse attractions and culture.

“It is also pleasing to see that water consumption in the city remained the same despite increased numbers of tourists in December. Thank you to all of our visitors and locals for their water-saving efforts.”

Altogether, 30 out of 36 local tourist offices interviewed by Wesgro saw an increase in visitors last month.

Mossel Bay and Knysna saw an increase, with Mossel Bay seeing more visitors from India.

Wilderness/George also saw an increase in tourists, with more visitors from the Middle East, while Barrydale recorded the highest number of visitors to the town in two years.

Bredasdorp and Cape Agulhas reported positive growth in tourist arrivals while 20000 people visited beaches in Struisbaai and L’Agulhas Lighthouse registered a 34.5% increase in visitors.

Grootbos Nature Reserve in Gansbaai registered a positive peak season with most international visitors coming from Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Italy. McGregor and Tulbagh both noted increases in tourism figures.

Paternoster saw more local visitors, particularly from Gauteng and the Western Cape. Hermanus also recorded an increase in visitors, retaining its normal European source market, while Spain was the new emerging market.

Lamberts Bay saw a 5% increase in their top international markets, the UK and the Netherlands, while Velddrif and Porterville both noted increases in international visitors.

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Cape Argus