Cape Town Tourism recently reported positive results for tourism to the city for the first part of summer season 2012/2013, with record numbers for December 2012 at major attractions across the city.
Table Mountain Cableway reported a record season with 119 000 ticket sales for December 2012, 19 000 more than expected and the cableway's highest monthly visitation for the last 83 years. It is believed that great weather and Table Mountain's status as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature contributed to this increase.
Cape Point saw a slight increase year-on-year with close to 95,000 visitors this past December compared to 90,000 visitors for December 2011.
The V&A Waterfront, South Africa's most-visited tourist attraction, saw an increase of 9.84% from December 2011, with a total of 3,015,227 visitors in December 2012, compared to 2,745,386 the previous year.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens also experienced their best December ever with a record number of 81,771 visitors; a 5% increase on December 2011. Visitor numbers were slightly down at Robben Island, which received 41,250 visitors during December, a decrease of 1,000 visitors from December 2011.
In a November 2012 report by Horwath HTL and Cape Town Tourism, a similar to slightly better summer season than last year was predicted for Cape Town, with an increase of about 4% on arrivals. Feedback from tourism companies and Cape Town Tourism members confirm that December 2012 was similar to December 2011 in terms of international tourism activity but the domestic market showed a marked increase in both visitor activity and dispersal of visits across the Metropole. We also noted an increase in domestic tourists to our Visitor Information Centres (VIC) and at Cape Town attractions. The VIC network serviced 15 081 visitors in December 2012, which is a 20% increase month on month from December 2011. All attractions reported high numbers of domestic visitors with increasingly representative ethnicity observed.
The top three provincial contributors to domestic arrivals were the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape in that order. The top contributors to international arrivals thus far were Germany, the UK and the USA. 49% of visitors to Cape Town Tourism Visitor Information Centres in December 2012 were from the international market and 51% from the domestic market. The City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard were exceptionally busy this past December but visitors also dispersed throughout the Metropole; along the Peninsula, to the Winelands and to rural towns outside of Cape Town's borders.
The Cape Town arm of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA Cape) reported a late start to the season, but a better-than-expected festive season. Members of FEDHASA Cape reported an increase in revenue of between 5% and 10% in comparison to December 2011. In addition, rental vehicles were fully booked for the last two weeks of December and the sunny weather encouraged visitors to get out and about to explore Cape Town.
Cape Town International Airport
Cape Town International Airport reported total passenger numbers for December 2012 in the region of 760 000, a 6% decrease in passenger movement when compared to December 2011. International arrivals declined by nearly 10% and domestic arrivals marked an almost 6% decline for the month of December 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, says; "The figures from Cape Town International Airport suggest that even more of our visitors to Cape Town travelled by car these holidays. This suggests budget-consciousness and it is likely that many holiday-makers stayed with family and friends and rented accommodation outside of the formal hotel sector. As domestic visitor numbers drop off schools and work re-open, we are seeing an increase in bookings for late January and February, when more international arrivals are expected. The on-going trend of bookings with shorter lead times continues to dominate so we expect current projected occupancy levels for February to increase still."
When comparing all passenger arrivals by air for 2012 (4 236 822 passengers) with previous years, 2012 reflects the most arrivals over the last twelve years according to Cape Town International Airport arrival statistics. "Even though this upward trend is encouraging, the demand for Cape Town year-round must improve in order to support and sustain the increased accommodation capacity in Cape Town post 2010," says Du Toit-Helmbold.
Successes and challenges in 2012
One of the major challenges the city faces during the December holiday period is that Cape Town's infrastructure is stretched, with limited parking and increased traffic on the roads, particularly around major tourist attractions and beaches. Officials coped well with this season's increase in revellers and the holidays passed without major incident and good management of crowd control, traffic and anti-social behaviour. Lost children on beaches, reckless and drunken driving and petty theft put a damper on an otherwise compliant populace.
Du Toit-Helmbold continues; "In 2012, Cape Town was awarded a number of international accolades, which bear testament to the cities world-class tourism offerings and put Cape Town in good stead for future inbound travel."
2012 accolades include:
Favourite City World Wide, Telegraph Travel Awards 2012
Number Two City in the World, Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards 2012
Top City in Africa, Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards 2012
Blue Flag Status 2012 for eight beaches and two marinas
Best Beach Destination in Africa, World Travel Awards 2012
The World's Top City in Africa and the Middle East, Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards 2012
Fourth Top City in the World, Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards 2012
Muizenberg, One of National Geographic's World's 20 Best Surf Towns
Eighth Top Ten Truly Unique Beaches in the World, Tripadvisor 2012
One of the World's Ten Most Loved Cities, CNNgo
Twenty Third Top 25 Destinations in the World, Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012
Eighth Top 10 Beach Destinations in Africa, Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012
February is traditionally the peak of international tourism season in Cape Town with arrivals expected from key source markets in the UK, USA, Germany and the Netherlands for this month. A forecasting survey of Cape Town Tourism members, conducted in conjunction with Horwath HTL, indicates an average expected occupancy rate of 81% for accommodation establishments across the metropole for February 2013 and an average room rate of R1,224.
Feedback from members of the industry reflect a growing number of visitors from new markets like India and China.
UK representative for Cape Town Tourism, Mary Tebje, provides insight into the UK travel market for 2013; "The New Year heralds the usual cascade of travel trade bookings, hype and bluster. It was a big year for Britons, with the Olympic Games and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee taking place; there is therefore a pent-up demand to get away this year - recession or not - and leading tour operators who sell Cape Town and South Africa holidays, including single and multi-centre itineraries, report much better than expected sales figures. One of the biggest outbound tour operators has reported that cumulative Cape Town forward bookings are outperforming the rest of Africa, and another has reported that the year has started with Cape Town bookings up 118% on room nights and 87% on pax. The cherry on the cake, however, is that the BBC is currently broadcasting a brilliant series on the wildlife and regions of Africa. It has been very well received and viewing figures average 6.5 million per episode. This week also sees the start of the Charley Boorman Adventure through South Africa, with good Cape Town coverage. These can only generate enquiries and future bookings."
Additional boosters to Cape Town's visibility include the Oscar nominations of two movies with extensive use of Cape Town locations.
Concludes Du Toit-Helmbold; "All in all, things are looking up for Cape Town's visitor season, it's our chance to make a great first impression, to wow our visitors with our exceptional service, diverse offerings and value-for-money. It's up to all of us to keep them coming back for more and spread the word that Cape Town is indeed a place of a lifetime."
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