Peak season report sees promising growth in domestic tourism
We welcome initial reports from the tourism industry that indicate a good season, with a promising growth in domestic tourism thanks to an increase in visitors from Kwa-Zulu Natal, Gauteng and the North West to the Western Cape. This is a positive indication of recovery in the tourism sector following the drought, and we remain optimistic ahead of the official statistics which will be published by South African Tourism towards the end of the month.
Top experiences attracting visitors to the Western Cape include wine tasting and activities at wine estates for families, cultural and sustainable experiences, local dining, events and outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling.
Wine cellars, specifically those outside of Stellenbosch and Paarl, confirmed an increase in sales from the previous year.
The report from the tourism industry also noted the following trends in regions outside of Cape Town:
80-90% of all reservations were made online,
last minute reservations made directly with establishments and at the tourism offices increased,
caravan parks increased in capacity, specifically with visitors from within the Western Cape, and
the average duration of overall stay was 2-3 days.
Looking ahead, the visitor numbers remain consistent with the previous year with a small increase in forward reservations. There has also been an increase in enquiries for local events and cost-effective experiences for families.
Tour operators report a 5% increase in bookings and arrivals to the Western Cape. The United Kingdom and Germany remain our key source markets for visitors to the province with significant increases from North America due to the newly launched United Airlines route between New York and Cape Town International Airport. Forward reservations for China, India, Brazil and Russia also look favourable.
Challenges such as load-shedding, confusion around unabridged birth certificates and visas, as well as concerns about safety and the drought were all raised by the tourism industry as inhibitors to sector growth.
Opportunities for improvement were also mentioned, with some visitors noting that many businesses in smaller towns were closed on New Year’s Day resulting in them leaving destinations earlier than planned. I am committed to working with our partners in the tourism industry to address these issues.
In November last year, together with the City of Cape Town, we launched the Tourism Law Enforcement Unit to provide additional security and assistance to those visiting the City of Cape Town.
This dedicated Tourism Law Enforcement Unit is deployed in key tourist areas in the City of Cape Town such as the cable car parking areas, the V and A Waterfront bridge, St Georges Mall and the Bo-Kaap. The unit has been equipped with electric bicycles to help them to cover greater distances as they assist those visiting tourist areas in the City of Cape Town.
We will also continue to focus on sector growth across all regions of the province. In advance of the tourism season, the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism worked with municipalities in the Western Cape to ensure they were ready for tourists by increasing staff and doing beach clean-ups.
Visitor information centres were also equipped to deal with any queries and additional traffic management was scheduled. Initial reports indicate that these efforts have been successful, with the Cape Overberg reporting an increase in bed nights, for example.
I’d like to thank all those working in the tourism industry for continuing to provide service excellence to those visiting the Western Cape. As we look ahead to the remainder of the season and a new year, I am excited to work together to address the challenges, identify new opportunities for growth and ensure that all visitors to the province have a positive and unforgettable travel experience so that they keep coming back and we continue to grow the economy and create jobs in the Western Cape.
Source: Government of South Africa