File photo: The annual Cape Town Design Indaba draws large crowds at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Picture: Leon Lestrade

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is planning two events to attract tourists, designers and artists to the city this winter.

James Vos, chair of the city’s tourism portfolio committee, said that the Cape Town Performance Arts Festival would take place in July followed by the Cape Town Design Exhibition Conference in August.

The events were part of plans to attract more people in the low season, and the design conference was intended to attract people to the city ahead of World Design Capital 2014.

The arts festival would include dance, music and other art forms.

“This festival will take place at various venues around the city including the City Hall, Artscape and the V&A Waterfront. We expect between 10 000 and 15 000 people at the festival from all over the country, as well as international guests.”

The design festival, to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, would attract about 4 000 delegates. Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, chief executive of Cape Town Tourism, said: “Despite growth in tourism of late, seasonality remains the biggest threat to our tourism industry. Many misperceptions exist around winter being an undesirable time to visit. This is a critical issue for an industry that employs more than 300 000 people and is the second largest contributor to the Western Cape’s GDP.

“Tourism role-players in Cape Town long ago realised that Cape Town needs a 365-day brand position to fill beds during the quieter months. The Performance Arts Festival and Design Conference are excellent examples of new winter events needed to attract visitors to the city.”

Alan Winde, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said the province could counter seasonality only by ensuring that it was a year-round destination.

“We can do this by giving visitors a range of reasons to come to our province. For example we are increasing our focus on business tourism. Over the next year it’s estimated that conferences will bring in R74-million to the local economy. Business tourists have a higher spend than leisure tourists. In the run-up to Cape Town hosting the World Design Capital next year, the creative sector is a particularly exciting space.”

Rashiq Fataar of Future Cape Town said an event like the Cape Town Design Festival was welcomed, “especially where it will bring design and design conversations to more citizens of Cape Town, showcasing design from all sectors of society, and stimulating much-needed debate on the design challenges of Cape Town as a whole”. - Cape Argus