15 January 2013

Record tourist season for Cape Town attractions

Cape Town’s major tourist attractions have reported a very good tourist season, spurred on by a marked increase in domestic visitors.

The Cape Peninsula at dusk. The Cape Peninsula at dusk

The ongoing trend of bookings with shorter lead times continues to dominate, so we expect current projected occupancy levels for February to increase even further. – Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism.

Record tourist numbers were reported at major Cape Town tourist attractions in December 2012.

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway reported a record season, with 119 000 ticket sales in December 2012 – 19 000 more visitors than had been expected, and the cableway’s largest number of visitors for 1 month in 83 years. Table Mountain’s status as one of the New7Wonders of Nature and the excellent weather experienced in the Mother City over the period are thought to be the major contributing factors.

Almost 95 000 visitors travelled to Cape Point, 5 000 up from December 2011, while the V&A Waterfront attracted 3 015 227 visitors, a 9.84% increase when compared with December 2011. The V&A Waterfront is South Africa’s most-visited tourist attraction.

The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden also experienced its best-ever December, with a record-number 81 771 visitors – 5% up from December 2011.

Robben Island, however, saw a slight decline in the number of visitors (41 250, which is 1 000 fewer than in December 2011).

Cape Town Tourism industry members reported similar international tourist activity as in December 2011, but confirmed a marked increased in visitor activity from the domestic tourism market. Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively, were the top contributors to international tourist arrivals, while the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, respectively, made up the majority of domestic tourist arrivals.

According to the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa, its members reported a better-than-expected festive season, with increased revenues of between 5% and 10% compared with December 2011.

Car rental companies also experienced a bumper season, with rental vehicles fully booked out in the last 2 weeks of December.

Passenger movements at Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) during December 2012 declined by 6% to 760 000 when compared with December 2011, with international arrivals declining nearly 10% and domestic arrivals declining by 6%. But when comparing all CTIA passenger arrivals (4 236 822 passengers) with previous years, 2012 saw the most arrivals for the past 12 years.

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said the December decline in tourist arrivals at CTIA suggests that more of Cape Town’s visitors travelled to the Mother City by car. ‘This suggests budget-consciousness and it is likely that many holidaymakers stayed with family and friends and rented accommodation outside the formal hotel sector,’ she commented.

She added that as domestic visitor numbers have dropped off with the opening of schools and businesses in January, Cape Town has seen an increase in bookings from the international market for late January and February. ‘The ongoing trend of bookings with shorter lead times continues to dominate, so we expect current projected occupancy levels for February to increase even further.’