11 January 2018. Initial reports on the December 2017 peak tourism month show high growth in international arrivals, and an increase in visitors to regions across the Western Cape.
According to Airports Company South Africa, Cape Town International Airport registered 127,309 international arrivals for December 2017, an 11.5% increase from December 2016.
Domestic arrivals by air dipped slightly by 2.2% to 389,324. It is anticipated that many local tourists chose to use land travel to access the province.
Wesgro – Cape Town and the Western Cape’s Official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency – spoke to Local Tourism Offices in the region to gain an initial idea of how the province performed this past December. Official statistics will be published by South African Tourism at a later date.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, welcomed initial reports of increases in regional trips.
“The positive feedback received from these offices points to a growth in geographic spread. More people are getting out onto the open road and exploring the diversity of attractions that are on offer across the province.”
The following is initial feedback received from Local Tourism Offices in some regions across the Cape:
- Mossel Bay and Knysna noted an increase in tourists. Mossel Bay in particular noted an increase in visitors from India.
- Wilderness/George noted an increase in tourists, with a notable increase in visitors from the Middle East.
- Swellendam noted an increase in tourists, with regular return visitors from Cape Town.
- Barrydale recorded the highest number of visitors to the town in the last two years.
- Bredasdorp and Cape Agulhas reported positive growth in tourist arrivals. Struisbaai had approximately 20,000 people to its beaches. L`Agulhas Lighthouse registered a 34.5% increase in visitors.
- Grootbos Nature Reserve, in Gansbaai, registered a positive peak season, with the majority of international visitors emanating from Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy.
- McGregor and Tulbagh both noted increases in tourism figures. Tulbagh in particular noted an increase in domestic visitors.
- Paternoster saw more local visitors during the season to date, particularly from Gauteng and the Western Cape; the leading international markets remained Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands.
- Hermanus also recorded an increase in visitors, retaining its normal European source market. Spain was noted as the new emerging market.
- Lambert’s Bay noted a 5% increase in their top international markets – the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
- Velddrif and Porterville both noted increases in international visitors. These towns reported a visible increase at their local shops, parking areas and camping sites.
Altogether, 30 out of 36 local tourism offices interviewed by Wesgro noted increases in visitors this December.
Said Winde: “Key goals of Project Khulisa, our economic growth strategy, include securing more direct flights and spreading the returns of tourism across our region to create growth and jobs in rural areas. These results prove that we are having a positive impact. We have also received feedback from our towns that visitors have responded positively to our water savings message, with many bringing water from their home towns. We would like to thank visitors for their efforts. I’m thrilled too that Knysna is having a good season, despite the fires of June this year. The majority of our tourism offices have noted that bookings are continuing to come in, indicating that tourism season is still in full swing.”
CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris added: “Our dedicated tourism team has been working hard to ensure that tourists explore the amazing attractions that the rest of the province has on offer. By getting out on the road and exploring our beautiful towns and communities in the Cape, tourists are helping grow local economies and create jobs in the most remote parts of the province. This is precisely why tourism is so valuable to our economy during these more challenging economic times, and why Wesgro will continue to do everything possible to ensure the industry continues to grow.”
Full statistics for attractions in Cape Town are still to be finalised and will be released once verified. Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy noted that “Cape Town remains a popular destination due to its natural beauty, diverse tourist attractions and local culture. It is also pleasing to see that water consumption in the city remained the same despite increased numbers of tourists in December. Thank you to all of our visitors and locals for their water-saving efforts.”
The press release is based on feedback received from 36 local tourism offices interviewed by Wesgro to provide an initial overview of the performance of the December ‘peak season’. The season is still in full swing, and statistics will be released when it is concluded.
Follow up email from the office of Minister Alan Winde in response to my question about Darling and Swartland tourism reads –
“‘We have sourced a response from Darling tourism, with the headlines being as follows. Kindly note that as explained in our press release, responses are largely perception driven at the moment, and that more fully fledged statistics will be available for the province in due course:
- Darling had a busy season. Especially Darling Sweets, Darling Brewery and the Wine Cellars (Ormonde Basson Family Farm, Groote Post Wine, Darling Cellars & Cloof Cellars). The town was very busy over the festive season with visitors.
We had a lot of Day Visitors over the festive season which increased the figures. We did also note that stays were shorter than in previous years.
- Has there been an increase in either local/international visitors?
We saw a decrease in International Visitors but a marked increase in Domestic Visitors, with Western Cape and Gauteng visitors being most popular.
- Where were the majority of visitors from?
Domestic – All over South Africa (Gauteng & Western Cape)
International – Netherlands, Germany, Namibia mostly
- Did the water crisis have any impact on visitors to your area/
No, Members & Visitors were well informed regarding our water crisis.
They all went out of their way to save water.
- Did crime/security concerns have any impact on your visitor numbers?
Darling tourism may be contacted on email@example.com, for more information and comment.”