Pictured is The Waterfront - Knysna Quays. National tourism figures are showing an almost 10% year-on-year decline, Cape Town and the Western Cape seem to be bucking the trend. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - While national tourism figures are showing an almost 10% year-on-year decline, Cape Town and the Western Cape seem to be bucking the trend with figures either increasing or remaining stable.

Statistics SA showed that nationally, figures for overseas tourists (236 647) in March this year decreased by 9.2% from 260 514 in March last year. Leaders in Cape Town's tourist industry are confident things are improving in the Western Cape.

While arrivals stats from Cape Town International Airport aren't compiled on a quarterly basis and total arrivals to the airport in May decreased by 3%, Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said: “Overall arrivals in the first quarter of 2019 were up.

“Cape Town Tourism conducted a survey with tourism businesses and 37% indicated that their performance over Q1 of 2019 was either ‘better’ or ‘much better’. Interestingly, and very indicative of this period being largely a recovery from the drought impact in 2018, were the 49% of businesses forecasting either ‘better’ or ‘much better’ performance in Q2.”

Bon Hotels chief executive Guy Stehlik said: “Tourism numbers don't rise and fall by mistake. It takes years of sustained hard work by all tourism stakeholders to drive tourism to a country.”

An industry snapshot provided by Cape Town Tourism from April said: “With the exception of Kirstenbosch Gardens and V&A Waterfront, attractions reported a year-on-year increase in visitors. (Decreases were) due to the timing of the school holidays and economic pressure influencing the domestic market. Those with year-on-year increases cited that it was largely due to the recovery of the impact of the drought.”

Information provided by Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, said as far as revenue per available room was concerned, “on a provincial and city level, Cape Town (R1 147.31) and the Western Cape (R1 029.19) as a whole achieved the highest revenue among all provinces and top cities in 2018”.

Duminy said: “Winter is the traditional low period for tourism in the region. But as Cape Town Tourism we've always taken it as an opportunity to boost domestic tourism.”

As a strategy to attract domestic tourists, Cape Town Tourism has recently tried a new approach.

Enver Duminy

Duminy said: “The thinking is that we can't market Cape Town as we have always done. We need to connect with fellow South Africans and welcome them to Cape Town in an unexpected way that gets their attention and makes them reconsider Cape Town for their winter break. Of course, a good deal is always a great drawcard.”

However, the picture is not all rosy: South African political realities as well as the economy are casting long shadows over the Cape's tourism sector, Stehlik said.

“Our country is effectively experiencing yet another technical recession and thus South Africans' appetites for spending their disposable income on holidays suffers.”

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