130403 - Cape Town - The Cape Town Jazz Festival hosted a free show in Green Market Square with Jimmy Nevis and Jimmy Dludu. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW

Cape Town - This year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival is expected to contribute over R450 million to the Western Cape economy and employ more than 2 000 people.

The 14th annual two-day festival begins tonight at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. More than 40 international and African artists will perform on five stages in front of about 35 000 fans. The event is sold out.

Thousands of revellers got a taste of what to expect at Wednesday’s free concert in Greenmarket Square, where local and international artists included the Brand New Heavies, Jimmy Dludlu and Jimmy Nevis.

Finance and Tourism MEC Alan Winde said the Western Cape government had contributed R300 000 to this year’s festival, in large part because of the economic benefits it drew into the region.

Last year, event contributed R457m to the Western Cape economy, R860m to the national gross domestic product, created 2 715 jobs over the duration of the festival and drew a crowd of 33 500, of which more than 60 percent were from other countries.

“These tourists contribute to growth and job creation in our province. This year’s jazz festival promises to be yet another success with performances by internationally renowned artists and local talents. The Western Cape is proud to host this prestigious event.”

Ivan Meyer, the MEC of cultural affairs and sport, said the festival was also a powerful social and cultural lever. “The jazz festival is one of those rare events that manages to attract both a local and international crowd.

“For two days, our city becomes the cosmopolitan heart of the world, a place where people from a multiplicity of backgrounds come together to dance to the same beat, share in one another’s cultures and learn more about us,” he said.

Nick Seewer, the chief executive of the Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, said taking full advantage of events such as the jazz festival was a way for stakeholders in the tourism industry to meet their target of creating more than 225 000 jobs in the sector by 2020.

“The jazz festival has grown year on year and has firmly established itself as a globally recognised event, currently attracting over 33 500 people. Drawing both local and international visitors, the festival provides an additional boost for tourism in terms of revenue for the city and the facilities that the festival attendees use, such as local hotels and restaurants. This in turn also results in job creation.”

Research conducted by the organisers, espAfrika, showed that festival goers who came to Cape Town for the 2010 event spent most of their money on accommodation, followed by food, restaurants and transport.

The 2012 Cape Town International Jazz Festival summary report showed that the festival generated R29.7m based on visitor spending and that the total direct spending over the festival amounted to R50.8m.

Seewer said this research proved that the capital generated by the festival flowed directly into the tourism industry, which was encouraging.

“Successfully hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup and more recently, several internationally renowned musicians, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lady Gaga, emphasises how South Africa is increasingly being noticed across the world as a destination for staging world-class events,” Seewer added.

Grant Pascoe, the mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, said the City of Cape Town was pleased to be one of the main sponsors of the festival.

“The festival resonates with this administration’s aim to build an inclusive city by bringing together people from diverse backgrounds from all over Cape Town, the rest of the country and continent, and globally, to revel in a superlative live jazz experience,” he stressed.

He said more than 20 000 international guests visited Cape Town last year for the festival, providing a major boost to tourism in the region.

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Cape Argus