UK travellers love the Cape while Asian and Middle East tourists mark SA as a popular destination

Chinese Deputy Consul-General Tang Chang'an and the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, Alderman James Vos. pic supplied

Chinese Deputy Consul-General Tang Chang'an and the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, Alderman James Vos. pic supplied

Published Apr 21, 2024


Cape Town remains the destination of choice for tourists travelling from the United Kingdom, Germany and the USA and continues to boost our economy.

According to SA Tourism, the biggest source markets for international travellers in 2023 (quarter 1 – quarter 3 only) to the Western Cape were the UK (15,1%), Germany (11%); USA (10,8%); Namibia (6,5%); and Zimbabwe (6,5%).

The quarter 4 of 2023 for the tourism season has yet to be updated.

Chinese travellers to South Africa remain number one around the country.

City officials Leon van Zyl and Alderman Clive Justus; with Chinese Deputy Consul-General Tang Chang'an; the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, Alderman James Vos; the City's Head of Destination Marketing, Wendy van der Byl; and Economic and Commercial Consul, Bo Shen. pic supplied

This week the Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, James Vos, announced the details of Cape Town’s destination travel campaign that will be rolled out in China.

Vos said prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Western Cape was the destination of choice for Chinese travellers with 151 000 tourists arriving in 2013, but the number had dropped significantly.

He said the province was working towards boosting their Chinese tourist number again, utilising social media: “Our plan is to target various cities across China via WeChat, the biggest instant messaging and social media platform in that country.”

“Pre-pandemic, Chinese travellers were the highest spenders globally. However, over the past decade, the arrival of Chinese travellers to South Africa fluctuated. With this campaign, we are aiming to connect with Chinese tourists like never before.”

Vos said according to their data 151 000 Chinese tourists arrived in South Africa in 2013. The following year, the figure fell to 83 000 but by 2019, the number rose to 93 000.

He said more visitors meant a boost to the economy and job opportunities.

“Following the country’s reopening of its borders post-Covid, just over 34 000 Chinese visitors made their way to South Africa between January and November 2023,” he said.

“China is a potentially-massive market for Cape Town, so this initial campaign is a huge moment for our destination.

‘Our messaging aims to drive awareness of Cape Town as a city of choice to visit, live, work, study, play and invest in.

“The activation in China follows a successful campaign run in Brazil, the USA and Europe.

“In the wake of our campaigns, Cape Town enjoyed an excellent visitor period boasting a record number of travellers from all over the country and world. This resulted in significant boosts to jobs for Capetonians and the local economy.”

This week, Cape Town Air Access, in association with Norse Atlantic Airways, announced the introduction of a new direct flight route connecting Cape Town International Airport (CPT) to London Gatwick Airport (LGW), commencing on October 28.

Norse Atlantic Airways will operate three flights per week on this route, enhancing connectivity between Cape Town and the United Kingdom.

According to Wrenelle Stander, Wesgro (Western Cape Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency ) CEO and official spokesperson for Cape Town Air Access, this will boost the economy as the UK holds a significant position as Cape Town’s top market for international passenger traffic, followed by the United States and Germany.

She said in 2023, the market witnessed an impressive 54% growth in two-way passenger traffic compared to 2022, with more than 360 000 passengers flying between the two destinations.

Between January 2010 and November 2023, the UK initiated a total of 105 Foreign Direct Investment projects in the Western Cape. These projects have contributed to economic development, generating an estimated capex exceeding R25 billion and creating over 6,600 jobs.

“This new direct flight from London highlights our destination’s continued strength and appeal with travellers and investors in the UK and other key source markets,” said Stander.

Minister of Tourism, Patricia de Lille, said international tourist arrivals in the country from January to November 2023 totalled 7.6 million representing a remarkable 51.8% increase when compared with the same period in 2022.

She said during the first 11 months of 2023 Asian markets also showed significant growth with a total 182,497 arrivals from the region representing an astounding 72.6% when compared to the same period in 2022.

De Lille said India led the way with 73,037 tourists visiting South Africa, a 46.3% growth, closely followed by China, which saw a massive 215.7% surge, amounting to 34,669 arrivals.

The Middle East also showed a robust increase with 51,779 arrivals in the January to November 2023 period, a 37.5% growth when compared to the same period in 2022.

Weekend Argus