According to Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, all indications are that the Cape will have a fantastic high season, both with international and domestic visitors. The exchange rate favours our international visitors and this may also encourage locals to remain in SA rather than travel internationally. ForwardKeys Traveller Data Intelligence indicates airline bookings to Cape Town for the summer season from some of South Africa’s key markets show increases of 17% from Germany, 15% from the United Kingdom, 6% from USA, 39% from Netherlands, 27% from France, 80% from Turkey, 9% from China and 25% from Angola.
Airfares to Cape Town over the peak season are very high, with BA charging as much for a business ticket from London to Cape Town as from London to Auckland. However, it is clear that the Air Access project, driven by Wesgro and funded by both business and public money is having a significant impact, achieving an additional 408,400 two-way seats since its inception in July 2015 up to December 2016.
And while airfares may be high, South Africa still offers fabulous value. According to Cape Town Tourism, the UK Post Office Holiday Money Travel Report has just announced (September 2016) that Cape Town is the best-value long haul destination globally when looking at a basket of items tourists may want to buy. Dubai, for example, is four times more expensive than Cape Town. So while flight prices are governed by demand and oil prices, once here, visitors get to enjoy affordable luxury. It is also encouraging that Conde Nast readers have voted Cape Town the number one food city in the world for 2016, as well as the city with the best bars and restaurants
It seems as if there will be enough accommodation for the influx of visitors . Although hotels will be close to capacity, there are currently seven hotel projects either recently completed or in development in Cape Town. These include The Capital Mirage, Radisson Blue and Radisson Red hotels, Tsogo Sun Hotel Complex, the Silo Hotel and the Gorgeous George Hotel. Besides hotels, there are many award-winning places of accommodation across the city, B&Bs, backpackers and self-catering units. And Airbnb is playing an important role. Judy Lain, Chief Marketing Officer, says Wesgro works very closely with Airbnb as they see the opportunity for the social sharing economy to grow hospitality and not cannibalise it. Lain says” It is important to understand that the new generation of hospitality platforms such as Airbnb are meeting the need of today’s consumer and are also enticing new consumers to travel. The consumer who is using these types of platforms is often looking for authentic homestays, often outside the cities in smaller towns that don’t have a lot of accommodation offerings. “
Growing the Cape’s wine and food tourism is vital in creating more jobs in rural areas, and visits to the winelands are central to the enjoyment of many of our visitors. According to Margi Biggs of Specialized Tours & Events, Cape wineries will definitely benefit from the increased visitor numbers but the challenge for the wine industry is to ensure that visitors to the Cape spend more of their time in the winelands and visit further afar than just Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Wineries need to ensure that they offer foreign tourists an unforgettable experience so that each visitor becomes an ambassador for South Africa and for our wines once they return home.
The winelands also need to attract more local tourists, says Biggs. She is the convenor of the first ever Business of Wine & Food Tourism conference to be held in Stellenbosch at the beginning of November, where the Min of Tourism will launch the first ever national wine tourism strategy. Amongst the many topics to be discussed is how to attract more visitors from the rest of South Africa and Africa to the wineries.