Cape Town: In December 2011, passenger arrivals into Cape Town International Airport and key attractions around the province achieved significant year-on-year growth. This December holiday, Cape Town International Airport received 86 910 international arrivals. This is 12 436 more than last December, representing an increase in arriving international passengers of 17.07%.
Regional arrivals increased by 26.78% to 7 139, and domestic arrivals increased by 4.52% to 337 385. This followed similar year-on-year increases in November 2011 of 14%, 11.7% and 3.6% respectively.
Preliminary statistics reveal that a total number of 4.21 million passengers arrived at Cape Town International Airport in 2011. This is 4.16% higher than what was achieved in 2010, the year that we hosted the FIFA World Cup.
Statistics from key Western Cape tourism attractions located around the province are further evidence that we are experiencing a good summer tourism season.
This past December, the Table Mountain Cableway, Cape Point and Kirstenbosch Gardens - three of the province's most popular tourist attractions - all experienced significant growth. The cableway achieved a record number of 112 000 visitors, 46.6% higher than last year due in part to better weather. Cape Point received 106 672 visitors, 18.7% more than in December 2010, and Kirstenbosch Gardens received 77 300 visitors, 2% more than in December 2010. Boulders, another tourist favourite, increased its visitor numbers by 22.9% to 68 942 this December.
Despite the good weather, Robben Island received 3 140 less visitors than in December 2010, a decrease of 7.5%. This World Heritage Site continues to be plagued by bad service, staff with a questionable work ethic and shoddy infrastructure. Instead of being an icon of our province and country, Robben Island has become a blemish on our tourism industry. I have requested a meeting with the Robben Island team to discuss possible improvements.
While most tourism attractions in locations outside of Cape Town continued to show growth following a strong November, others registered a decline. De Hoop Nature Reserve, Arniston and Napier grew visitor numbers by 23%, 144% and 16.7% respectively, while Elim and the Agulhas Lighthouse registered 43.7% and 11.8% less visitors respectively.
These figures suggest that we need to devise more innovative solutions in collaboration with the private sector to market the province's entire tourism offering.
Despite the ongoing economic downturn that is affecting tourism numbers across the world, the Cape's tourism industry showed remarkable growth in 2011.
Our success in achieving these statistics is in part due to the hard work of the industry and the welcoming attitude of all residents of the province. In 2011, Cape Town achieved a number of international accolades, many of which were voted for directly by travellers, which achieved the destination significant exposure. They include:
· TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Number 1 Destination of 2011.
· World Design Capital 2014.
· Table Mountain voted a New7Wonder of Nature.
· Cape Town was runner up in the Telegraph Travel Awards of 2011 (biggest selling daily in UK).
· One of Lonely Planet's top ten beach cities.
· One of New York Times' top ten hippest cities that think about how they work.
· Conde Naste's Top City to visit in Africa and the Middle East in 2011.
· Huffington Post's top ten most popular study abroad cities.
In 2012, we will continue to focus on this industry to achieve growth and job creation in our province. Our multi-pronged strategy is focused on:
· Promoting the destination in traditional and new markets, with a special emphasis on Africa, the Middle East and the BRIC countries.
· Encouraging domestic tourism as it is the bread and butter of our tourism industry.
· Boosting business, events and sports tourism by providing a competitive offering. The expansion of the CTICC is key to this objective.
· Increasing direct air lift by engaging airlines in key source and emerging markets.
· Promoting the development of tourism small and medium enterprises to widen access to jobs in this industry. This includes training and business mentorship programmes.
We will also be placing special emphasis on increasing the standard of service delivery in our province by calling on all hospitality establishments to up their game.
The above initiatives have put us firmly on track to achieve our aim of growing the contribution of tourism to the region's GDP from 10% to 15% by 2014. There are still five months of good summer weather ahead, and we look forward to the boost that this will bring our tourism establishments.
A small snapshot exit poll conducted at the Cape Town Airport by the Western Cape Government has yielded overwhelmingly positive results. The exit poll, amongst 25 respondents from 14 countries, was conducted on 11 January 2012 to measure foreign visitor perception and experience of the destination.
Amongst visitors surveyed, 36% perceived the destination as safe, 20% felt really safe and 32% felt very safe. The remainder (12%) felt either unsafe or very unsafe, and in these cases, aggressive driving by other road users was cited as the primary cause.
The perception of the destination was much more positive than upon arrival. Thrity-two percent indicated that they viewed the destination more positively. Thirty-six percent indicated that they felt much more positive about South Africa since coming here. One respondent indicated that she felt more negative since arriving here.
Of all the respondents, not one indicated that they would not be returning to the destination. Sixty percent indicated that they would return, and 40% indicated that they would return with their family. This is a positive indication for the future growth of our tourism industry.
When asked whether they had heard that Table Mountain was chosen as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, 64% of recipients responded in the positive.
The snapshot poll respondents gave their Western Cape holiday experience an overall rating of 8.5 out of 10.
I would like to thank the residents of the Western Cape and those in the tourism industry for playing their part to attract tourists to the region and ensure that they have an experience that encourages them to return. Our tourism industry is a key source of growth and jobs, and we are striving to ensure that it continues to go from strength to strength.
Other snapshot poll results in brief:
- 64% of those surveyed were first-time visitors to the destination.
- Females accounted for 32% of those surveyed, and males made up the remaining 68%. This is in contrast to the poll conducted during the World Cup, when males accounted for 82% of respondents.
- The average age of respondents was 42 years (2010 = 40 years).
- The average group consisted of 2.5 persons (2010 = six persons).
- The Winelands was the most popular region visited outside of the City of Cape Town, with 56% of respondents indicating that they travelled there.
- Hire cars were the primary mode of transportation (52%).
The top three experiences in the Western Cape were:
- Table Mountain.