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15 March 2013

Cape Town Tourism highlights tourism trends reported at ITB Berlin

A delegation from Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro (the destination marketing and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape) and the City of Cape Town has returned from ITB Berlin 2013 with fresh ideas on how to further develop and market Cape Town’s and the Western Cape’s tourism offering.

Cape Town Cape Town – South Africa's Mother City

We need to build on our reputation as a destination that is responsible, sustainable and offers non-generic, authentic, people-centred experiences. – Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, Cape Town Tourism CEO.

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold was a keynote speaker at the 10th ITB convention, where she spoke about Cape Town Tourism’s digital journey and the city’s passage towards greater sustainability through responsible tourism practices.

Upon her return from ITB Berlin, Du Toit-Helmbold said Cape Town and South Africa have to be future-fit to ensure their relevance and effectiveness in a 'world that has changed forever'.

‘We need to build on our reputation as a destination that is responsible, sustainable and which offers non-generic, authentic, people-centred experiences,’ she said.

She added that while technology is changing the face of tourism, and how visitors engage with information and make travel arrangements, there is a growing necessity to balance technology with genuine human interaction.

‘We need to ensure that we do not lose touch with tourism’s most precious resource – people,’ she commented.

Councillor Grant Pascoe, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, said Cape Town is well placed to take advantage of the world’s most lucrative and fastest-growing travel markets.

‘Key areas with potential for Cape Town are Muslim travel, youth travel and sports tourism. The global Muslim travel market is worth US$126-billion. Important considerations for this market are halaal food and access to prayer facilities, both commonplace in Cape Town,' he said.

ITB Berlin is regarded as a trends barometer for the international travel industry. Du Toit-Helmbold highlighted some of the trends and developments reported at ITB Berlin that are relevant to Cape Town and South Africa: 

  • Travellers are demanding centre place in the planning and purchasing of their trips, which means that personalisation is key.
  • A surge in last-minute, impulse-driven bookings, shorter stays and more frequent trips closer to home is forcing the travel and tourism industry to become more flexible, change booking and cancellation policies, and invest more in digital marketing and communication solutions.
  • There was a dramatic increase in the use of mobile devices to book travel in 2012.
  • Travellers are hungry for community, want to engage in meaningful conversations and relationships, and want to get involved in causes.
  • New world travellers are getting younger. Future tourism products will therefore have to cater for the younger traveller.
  • In terms of new markets, China is third on the list of outbound tourism spend and on pace to rank ahead of the United States for the first time in history. Substantial growth in outbound tourism is also expected from Russia and Brazil. Helping fuel the emergence of these new players is the value of their respective currencies, which is expected to surge during the next five years, with the US dollar and British pound only posting moderate growth.
  • Continuous innovation has to become part of the fundamental DNA of the destinations and tourism companies that will ultimately survive.