The city of Cape Town is to adjust its tourism plans and start engaging with other airlines after South African Airways discontinued its direct flights between London and Cape Town, said Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing.

He said talks with other airlines would start in the near future to give the city an opportunity to investigate the pressures under which the airline industry operated so that the city could adjust its marketing strategies to suit the dynamics of the industry.

He ruled out the possibility of recruiting the airlines to take over SAA flights from August 15 as the city did not have a mandate to do so.

He said the city would have talks with Virgin Airlines and other unnamed airlines.

Pascoe said talks with SAA would continue so that the city could review how it marketed its destination to tourists and that Cape Town Tourism would a play major role in discussions.

Pascoe was re-elected DA metro chairman at a congress on Saturday where he saw off competition from the party’s council caucus leader, Grant Twigg, and MP Denis Joseph.

In an interview with the Cape Times, Pascoe said SAA responded to his recent open letter and said its expansion strategy into South America and Australasia was more encouraging than the United Kingdom link.

Pascoe wrote to the SAA board of directors on Thursday expressing the city’s disappointment with the decision.

“Our very real concern is that this decision will have a negative impact on the tourism industry in Cape Town. This is an industry which injects R14.6-billion per year into Cape Town’s GDP. Further, it is estimated that 300 000 people are permanently employed in the city’s tourism industry,” read Pascoe’s letter.

His re-election on Saturday gave him confidence that the DA would not just retain existing voters in Cape Town, but it would also grow its support among black voters.

Pascoe, who was first voted into the position two years ago, said the ANC’s Project Reclaim was by far the biggest threat currently facing the DA in the Western Cape.

The recent wave of service delivery protests in the province were orchestrated by the ANC as part of its bid to “destabilise” the DA, he said.

Another challenge preventing the DA making Cape Town “an inclusive city” was that the DA had less than 30 councillors working in ANC-dominated areas where they found it difficult to break down social barriers. He added that the DA was a strong party in the city with 95 branches and that they aimed to grow the party to 110 branches.

Pascoe, who is married with three children, said that in order for the DA to deliver on all the promises made to supporters during previous elections, its councillors and Members of Parliament should be visible in their areas.

Pascoe, 41, who is from Mitchells Plain, said one of the highlights in his 12-year political career was seeing the dumping areas in Mitchells Plain converted into gardens while he was the area’s ward councillor over a three-year period.

He said mayor Patricia de Lille was doing a “great job of aligning the party’s manifesto to the city’s Integrated Development Plan, which in turn influences budget expenditure.

Despite availing himself unsuccessfully for the post of mayor last year, Pascoe said he was surprised to be appointed to De Lille’s mayoral committee and that he enjoyed his current council position so much that he no longer wanted to become mayor.

Mossel Bay Tourism chairman Rene Bongers is calling on tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk to bring the SAA flight withdrawals before Parliament. - Cape Times