File picture: David Ritchie/Independent Media
Cape Town - Although tourism in the Western Cape is facing a major challenge because of the ongoing drought and water shortages, big events bring much-needed jobs and a welcome boost to the province’s economy.

Enver Duminy, the chief executive at Cape Town Tourism, said on Wednesday water shortages presented a challenge to maintaining growth in tourism.

Events represented a tangible, ongoing recovery plan for the sector in the short term, while holding on to responsible tourism as a central principle.

RELATED: Cape wine tourism grows by 16%

“We refer to big events as ‘the Eighth Attraction’. Alongside the Cape’s major attractions such as the Table Mountain Cableway, Robben Island Museum, Cape Point, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, the V&A Waterfront, Groot Constantia and the Two Oceans Aquarium, big events contribute a sizeable proportion of money to the tourism economy throughout the year," Duminy said.

He said major events included the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, one of the city’s biggest annual events, which drew about 37000 visitors and generated in the region of R700million; the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, which generated R673m; and the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the world’s largest individually-timed cycling race with 35 000 participants, of which 4 000 were international visitors, which brought in more than R500m.

Others were the Absa Cape Epic, which contributed R300m in 2016; HSBC Sevens Rugby, which generated R432m in 2016 and created 1 400 jobs - and was estimated to have generated over R500m last year; and the Cape Town leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, which took place in December, contributed about R500m and 35 000 bed nights to the city’s economy.

Duminy said the city of Alicante in Spain, the start of the race, estimated the economic value of each leg to be R960m.

Year-round events such as food festivals, business conferences, concerts and sports tournaments ensured seasonality was countered, providing income to tourism professionals in low seasons.

“This year, event organisers have prioritised supplying water from outside the Cape to ensure that the H20 footprint left by visitors is minimised.

"Along with further initiatives and measures in place to save water for both locals and visitors, the impact is negligible.”

Duminy said events could provide the cash injection the tourism industry, and related secondary industries, needed to make jobs sustainable.

ALSO READ: Cape businesses hope #Budget2018 will bring in tourists

“Tourism supports over 300 000 jobs in the Western Cape, if indirect and induced jobs are included, contributing nearly R9.9 billion in the first half of 2017 to the provincial economy.

"As international tourists only add 1% to the population of the Cape on average at any given point, tourists can rest assured they will only provide a positive benefit to the province during this time, provided they save water like a local.

"It’s imperative that we encourage responsible, mindful tourism at this time."

Sisa Ntshona, the chief executive at SA Tourism, said last week that the organisation was pleased that it was business as usual for two of Cape Town’s iconic events this month.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival will take place on March 23 and 24, and the Cape Town Cycle Tour was held on Sunday.

[email protected]

Cape Argus