Alan Winde

Zara Nicholson

Metro Writer

TOURISM in Cape Town is back on track, with figures returning to pre-recession numbers.

Yesterday, the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, released mid-season figures showing 10 000 more international arrivals at the Cape Town International Airport and 13 655 more local flights than in December 2012.

The R18 billion tourism economy has experienced significant increases, with tourism agencies reporting a rise in visitor numbers.

Winde said he was pleased with the numbers and most tourism establishments had run at full capacity last month.

“We’ve been pushing to get back to where we want to be. The benefits of this thriving industry are spreading across our province, resulting in increased job opportunities for urban and rural residents. The tourism industry contributes more than R18bn a year to our region’s economy and employs 150 000 people.

“It’s a crucial sector of the Western Cape economy,”

International flights to Cape Town increased by 6.7 percent, with air travel figures returning to pre-recession levels.

l The number of visitors to Cape Point increased by 7 562 from 2012, while Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden had 6 757 more visitors.

l Groot Constantia noted an increase in visitors from African countries and more tourists from Italy, Spain and Portugal. The estate had 63 000 visitors in November and last month.

l The V&A Waterfront reached “record-breaking” numbers, with close to 24 million visitors last month.

l The Table Mountain Cableway had a record 120 318 visitors last month.

“Establishments across our province are welcoming more international travellers. I am confident the high-profile awards we garnered in 2012 and 2013 and improvements in service are key drivers of this increase. The weaker rand is also a factor,” Winde said.

The number of visitors to Robben Island declined, from 75 487 in November and December 2012 to 70 731 in the last two months of last year.

Tours were cancelled because the Robben Island Museum failed to secure enough charter boats, leaving tourists fuming. The museum was relying on hired boats to ferry tourists to the island as its main boat, Sikhululekile, was undergoing repairs.

Hotel occupancy rates have been reaching 100 percent, a trend that is set to continue until March.

Fedhasa Cape’s chairwoman, Michelle de Wit, said although Cape Town was an established destination for international visitors, the tourism industry predicted an increase in numbers, in part due to Nelson Mandela’s death.

Last month, many visitors were from traditional source markets such as the UK, US and Germany as well as from emerging source markets, such as China and Brazil, De Wit said.

“We anticipate Cape Town will continue to see an influx of international tourists between late January and March.”

Lorna Simone, from tour operator Hylton Ross, said: “We have seen a substantial increase and we have been so sold out that we are battling to find extra vehicles to hire.

“We have had an absolute bumper season and many people in the business are experiencing the same.”

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