Cape Town - The festive season brought some much-needed relief to the battered tourism sector as reflected in figures released by the City’s Economic Growth Department in partnership with Cape Town Tourism (CTT).
Despite concerns about the risks of travelling during a pandemic and travel bans instituted by European countries after the discovery of the Omicron variant, CTT recorded its first set of increasing visitor numbers over the festive period.
Through collaborative efforts, the sector recorded an encouraging recovery rate across the board.
Speaking at the launch of the performance figures, mayoral committee member for Economic Growth, James Vos announced Cape Town International Airport recorded a recovery rate of 66% for domestic arrivals and 29% for international arrivals compared to December 2019.
“Last year was a challenging year for our hospitality and tourism industries, as expected. Fortunately, through collaborative efforts and a series of campaigns we hosted, we attracted local tourists who joined us over the festive season,” he said.
“The results of our campaigns speak for themselves. In December, the tourism sector contributed R800 million to the metro’s economy and R5.8 billion in all of 2021, while the domestic-friendly campaign resulted in bookings valued at just over R40m.
“Based on the demand that we saw, I believe that there will continue to be an upward trajectory for travel to Cape Town. However, we need to make good on this by funding and working together with industry bodies such as CTT,” Vos said.
According to the released figures, Cape Town’s favourite tourist attractions all saw a positive incline.
Tourist sites such as Cape Point had a 33% positive recovery rate, while Chapman’s Peak Drive had an increase of 77% and Table Mountain by 57%.
CEO of CTT, Enver Duminy said: “We’re delighted to see recovery in our visitor economy, with domestic and international tourists injecting some much-needed capital into the city.
“While the numbers look better, we need sustained tourism to impact our local small business sector and start turning the devastating blows dealt by Omicron-linked travel bans around.”
Before the Omicron variant was announced, Duminy said a visitor study by CTT showed that of 67% of South Africans who intended to travel during the festive season, only 47% did so.
“That was a considerable decrease, and many of our local members reported experiencing drastic last-minute cancellations. We are hopeful that February will bring a surge of guests to our shores,” Duminy said.
However, despite the encouraging report by the industry, some businesses were still battling to regain their momentum even while actively participating in several of the planned campaigns facilitated by the City and its partners.
“We must keep pushing and doing more to grow this industry. The tens of thousands of jobs lost last year reveal the urgency of our work. Under our partnership with CTT, the City has detailed plans to produce world-class destination marketing and development material, visitor information services across Cape Town, and community tourism product development to support local businesses,” said Vos.