Cape Town shows healthy growth


Cape Town Tourism in partnership with the City of Cape Town had set the desired number of international visitor arrivals to the city at 1.5 million for last year. Based on forecasts by Grant Thornton, it is likely that once all the 2014 stats are in, numbers will show that Cape Town has achieved, and possibly even exceeded, this target.

Cape Town International Airport reported 4 303 434 total arrivals during 2014 – a 3.4% increase year on year. This is the highest number of arrivals that the airport has reported per year to date. Regional arrivals peaked in December 2014, with the overall year exceeding the boom years of 2007/2008 as well as the number of arrivals received in 2010 when South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.

The top attractions also saw robust growth during the year. The V&A Waterfront smashed previous visitor records, with just over 24 million visitors in 2014. This represents a 3% increase year on year. Cape Point reported 3.2% growth for the year; Robben Island 9% and Table Mountain Cableway 14.8%. The greatest success story of the year belonged to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden which showed a 28% increase for the year, attributed in most part to the popularity of the Treetop Canopy Walkway or ‘Boomslang’ as it is affectionately called – clearly demonstrating the power of reinvention in managing attractions.

Says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy; “We view Cape Town as a year round destination and not a seasonal town. Yes, we have different peak periods such as the domestic tourism peaks during December and the other school holidays and we have an international peak in February, but our focus is on a year-round tourism picture. We are very pleased with the overall performance of 2014, in particular, that we are seeing growth in months like October and July, when Airports Company South Africa reported upward growth in arrivals of 7.2% and 6.3% respectively.”

Despite brisk trade and overall optimism in recent months, several voices within the industry are still raising concern about drop-off due to Ebola and strict new visa laws. Some hotels (especially those that rely on Asian and US markets) are seeing a dip in their forecast for the next three months. In addition, a Cape Town Tourism membership survey done in early January 2015, found that 44% of members surveyed indicated that they had lost up to 10% of their turnover for the two months of November and December 2014 due to the impact of new visa regulations and the Ebola outbreak.

It is hoped that recent successes in controlling the spread of Ebola (Mali recently announced they were now Ebola–free) in Africa – and the fact that South Africa has still not seen any Ebola cases - will see a recovery in sensitive markets. Clear information about visa protocols will assist in alleviating fallout from visa law changes but the situation seems set to remain challenging.

Accordingly, tourism businesses relying on international tourism are cautiously optimistic about the period January to March 2015, which is traditionally a peak period for international visitors. When asked to compare the first quarter of 2015 with the same period in 2014, 60% of Cape Town Tourism members surveyed reported that they felt that business would be ‘much better or better’. The remaining 30% felt the period would deliver a similar performance to the same time last year with only 10% expecting a poorer performance in the first quarter of the new year.

Says The City of Cape Town’s Mayco Member for Tourism, Garreth Bloor; “We are optimistic about these indications of a positive tourism year for Cape Town in 2014, especially in light of the overall performance of the year and particularly because tourism is such a key economic driver for our city. Cape Town has had a good run of events and accolades to keep us in the spotlight over the past few years and we need to work hard to maintain this position in order to increase the economic opportunities in Cape Town.”

Tammy White 


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Issue 68