AFTER navigating choppy seas, the cruise industry – one of Cape Town tourism sectors hardest hit by the Covid pandemic – is forecasting smoother sailing ahead.
MEC for Finance and Economic Development in the Western Cape, David Maynier told Weekend Argus that he expected 28 cruise ships to dock, with as many as 190 000 passengers for the year.
“We have been hit hard by the global Covid-19 pandemic, which is why I am happy to say that we are now seeing the green shoots of recovery in the Western Cape,” he said.
The industry is driven by Cruise Cape Town, an initiative housed in Wesgro.
“This past financial year I motivated for funding towards Cruise Cape Town programme and I will do so again in the next budget cycles,” James Vos, City’s Mayco member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management.
“It makes business sense that secures global connectivity for Cape Town,” he said.
Vos said there was no doubt that the past two years had been tough going for industries and economies, with tourism certainly coming off as one of the worst affected.
“But I’m proud of the hard work, innovation and collaboration that have kept Cape Town in prime position for a bumper tourist year,” he said.
The organisers of the popular BokBoot Cruise, that will tomorrow depart from Cape Town to Walvis Bay, can attest to this.
“We’re very happy that we’re able to operate again,” said organiser Wimpie van der Sandt.
“Our passengers don’t need to don a mask when they are outside on the decks.
“I think that is why we are so excited, because to not wear masks will definitely put us back to pre-Covid feels,” he said.
Students who work on cruise ships to earn extra cash were ecstatic about the recovery of the cruise industry.
“I pay my student debt with this money,” University of Cape Town student Jano Prinsloo told Weekend Argus.
"When you’re a server you can leave with anything from R1 000 to R5 000 a night.
“That’s some lekker money right there, especially for a broke student.
“During higher levels of the pandemic I was not able to work on the ships and was therefore not able to pay my student debt, my bar trips and my lifestyle,“ Prinsloo said.
The tourism industry in general paints a positive outlook for tourism and travel to Cape Town.
International arrivals have up until now recovered to 55% of pre-pandemic levels and domestic arrivals have recovered to 72% of pre-pandemic levels and hotel occupancy to 75%, Maynier said.
The Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) is now processing an incredible 25 000 passengers a day.
Among the airlines that have resumed services to the airport are Emirates, which flies to and from Dubai, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, which connects to Heathrow, Kenya Airways, and Turkish Airlines.
America’s United Airlines has also announced that it will resume direct flights between Cape Town and Newark, New York.