Cape Town Tourism’s report found that tour guides, the tour companies and the smaller establishments were the most affected.. Picture: Taryn Elliott/Pexels.
Cape Town Tourism’s report found that tour guides, the tour companies and the smaller establishments were the most affected.. Picture: Taryn Elliott/Pexels.

Cape Town tourism sector lost R2bn during peak season - report

By Travel Reporter Time of article published Feb 18, 2021

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Is Cape Town's tourism sector in crisis?

A new report reveals the impact of Covid-19 on the South African city. Cape Town Tourism released a report highlighting how the lockdown levels implemented over the traditional high season affected the tourism industry.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa banned the sale of alcohol, closed public pools, dams, rivers, parks and beaches in late December due to the rise in Covid-19, Cape Town saw a decline in bookings and cancellations.

The city is usually full during the summer season, from November to February, but according to the report, Cape Town Tourism members have lost a total of over R2 billion and almost 12 000 jobs have been lost in Cape Town since December 28, 2020

The report, conducted via email among Cape Town-based tourism businesses and Cape Town Tourism members, details how severe these regulations have been. It found tour guides, the tour companies and the smaller establishments were the most affected.

Key insights from the report indicate 70% of businesses are currently operating. Of those not operating, 57% attributed this to not enough international demand.

The report also indicates 60% of businesses indicated they could operate for less than three months only if regulations such as the ones implemented during January were once again to come into play. The report shows 68% of respondents noted they have already let staff go and 83% implemented pay cuts.

Brian Talbot of Cape Personalised Tours said: “We started 2020 well, with a strong forward order book, but since late March 2020 my business has been at a complete standstill due to Covid restrictions on international travel, and the immediate future is uncertain.

“With no income and no government support, I have had to cut all expenses in order to survive and make sure that I still have a business when travel resumes again at some point in future.”

Enver Duminy, chief executive of Cape Town Tourism, shared his concerns:

“As the country continues to move in and out of various levels of lockdown, we needed to understand how our member businesses are doing and specifically what the long-term lockdown impact will be. What is very clear is that there is a massive concern that businesses will reach the point of no return and will have to close permanently.

“These numbers are a huge concern for us and drive home the fact that the tourism industry is in dire need of more support to have any chance of survival. Feedback from our members across the board tells an extremely sobering story, and if we keep banning the sale of alcohol and closing public spaces that are popular tourism areas, we, as an industry, are dead in the water."

Top attractions have record low visitor numbers

Cape Town attractions experienced low visitor numbers for December 2020, with Robben Island seeing the largest decline in visitor numbers compared to December 2019. Declines in visitor numbers for Robben Island were 83%, Cape Point 69%, Table Mountain 66%, while the Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront and Kirstenbosch Gardens saw visitor numbers drop by 56%, 50% and 48%, respectively.

Alderman James Vos, mayoral committee member for asset management and economic opportunities, including tourism, said destinations need to reinvent offerings to succeed.

"With the City of Cape Town’s 10-point tourism strategy, we aim to help breathe life back into this very vital sector to assist in bringing about economic recovery. A few months ago, we put together the Tourism Task Team to support the tourism and hospitality industry through these tough times while also focusing on future prospects.

"We are constantly looking at global best practice to implement measures to drive the various stages of recovery and readiness, as well as campaigns to stimulate supply and demand for specific key source markets," he said.

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