According to Cape Town International Airport, the city saw an influx of tourists visiting in December 2021 compared to December 2019 when the Covid-19 pandemic first struck.
The airport reported a recovery of 66% for domestic arrivals and 29% for international. Across the board, tourism figures looked brighter for December, despite ongoing travel bans and the discovery of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.
Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth at the City of Cape Town, Alderman James Vos, said the increase was due to the success of collaborative campaigns in an effort to attract local tourists to the city.
“2021 proved to be yet another challenge for our hospitality and tourism industries. This past December holiday was much more positive for the local industry. Judging by the demand, I believe that there will continue to be an upward trajectory for travel to Cape Town and South Africa. But we need to make good on this,” said Vos.
He suggested by funding and working together with industry bodies such as Cape Town Tourism (CTT), the city can drive further regrowth and development of its tourism sector and small businesses
“This is an industry that traditionally supports hundreds of thousands of people with jobs. It also celebrates and reveals the diversity of our communities. We must make sure that tourism in Cape Town is as accessible as possible, both for those working in the industry, and for those who buy into its experiences,” Vos said.
CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy said he was delighted to see recovery in the visitor economy with domestic and international tourists injecting some sorely needed capital into the city.
“We do understand that recovery will take a little longer than we had hoped but we are optimistic that this trend toward recovery continues in February, as we enter our ‘second’ peak season,” said Duminy.
He said while the numbers looked better, the city still needed continuous visitors to turn around the devastating blows dealt by Omicron-linked travel bans.
“Prior to the advent of Omicron, our Cape Town Tourism visitor study reported that 67% of South Africans intended to travel in December. In practice, just 47% went away, according to the latest retrospective study. That’s a considerable decrease, and many of our local members reported experiencing drastic last-minute cancellations. Hopefully February will bring a surge of guests to our shores to experience the best our beautiful city has to offer,” said Duminy.
During December 2021 all of Cape Town’s famed attractions reported positive recovery when compared to 2019 figures.
Cape Point recorded 33% more visitors while Chapman’s Peak Drive spiked to 77%, Groot Constantia to 60%, Kirstenbosch to 49%, Robben Island to 46%, Table Mountain to 57% and Two Oceans Aquarium to 76%.
The V&A Waterfront reported a year-on-year percentage increase of 31% and attributed it to increased footfall and eased restrictions. They also reported a strong influx of domestic travellers that helped drive the improved figures.
According to Cape Town Tourism’s dipstick survey, 57% of members indicated that their December 2021 performance was better than December 2020, 64% reported an increase in domestic visitors, 18% reported an increase in visitors from the UK, 25% saw an increase in visitors from the USA, and 25% from Germany.
Duminy added: “Let’s not lose sight of our wins. It’s been especially heart-warming to see so many South Africans passionately supporting home-grown businesses. Thank you! Hopefully, this is an upward trend, and we’ll see more people coming to Cape Town to find their freedom in February.”