Tourism industry has ‘weathered the storms’

Outgoing chairperson of the Cape Town Tourism board, Julie-May Ellingson

Cape Town Tourism (CTT) identified the challenges faced by the tourism industry and celebrated the highlights of the past year at the organisation’s annual general meeting, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last week.

Julie-May Ellingson, outgoing chairperson of the CTT board, said that despite challenging headwinds like South Africa’s continued sluggish economy along with the increased number of reported incidents, involving tourists, the travel and tourism sector had managed to weather these storms and should look ahead with optimism.

The theme of the AGM, “It starts with us”, looked directly to this, with the thinking that we can create a better tomorrow for our city through collaborative action today, she said.

She also pointed to two key initiatives as generating a positive response from visitors, communities, government and the tourism sector alike.

Running for a second year, CTT’s TravelWise Safety Ambassador Program has done much to reduce possible safety risks posed to visitors while ensuring they enjoy every part of Cape Town.

Cape Town Tourism’s initiative to market the city to the global Muslim travel market had seen the organisation working closely with CrescentRating, the world’s leading authority on halaal travel, to accredit and train the industry first-hand.

In terms of key industry indicators over the financial period of July 1, 2018 to June, 30 2019, Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) welcomed 5.4 million passengers which is the third consecutive year that arrivals have exceeded 5 million passengers.

This was achieved despite challenges like the depressed economy, safety and security issues, visa requirements and the drought.

Most international arrivals to Cape Town were from the United Kingdom, Germany and the USA. The international source markets that saw the greatest year-on-year (YOY) growth include India, China and Spain.

Indicators from the accommodation sector, however, did reflect the challenges the industry has faced.

With the exception of November 2018, monthly occupancy rates recorded a decline for all months during the period. Despite the overall decline, room rates have consistently increased over the period of March to June 2019.

When looking at indicators from tourist attractions, Chapman’s Peak Drive and Robben Island were the only attractions that reported year-on-year growth. December was the peak month for attractions, but performance decreased by 5% year-on-year.

In addition to the overall destination challenges, attractions reported that weather and the changes to the school holidays affected their performance with the decline in the domestic market being largely as a result of the constrained local economy.

Enver Duminy, CTT’s chief executive officer, pointed to Cape Town Tourism’s new partnership with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology who launched the Love Cape Town Marketing Incubator pilot programme. The incubator is aimed at small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) within Cape Town Tourism’s membership base and provides mentorship and training with some of the top minds in the business.

Mr Duminy said: “If we’re to continue our growth trajectory as a destination, we must be bold, agile and achieve ground-breaking results. “Our strategies are showing early signs of recovery, and we have committed and hard-working partners working to ensure frictionless visitor experiences.”

The winners of the Cape Town Tourism Board Development Fund (BDF), which assists SMMEs with support to develop their tourism businesses, were also announced at the AGM.

The Cape Town Tourism Board established the BDF to support SMMEs carefully chosen through an internal selection process with each business receiving R50 000 in support of their growth plans, as well as non-financial support from CTT’s members, partners and leadership. This year’s recipients were African Authentic Experience, Tees & Gees, and Seven Colours Eatery.

In addition to the BDF winners, winners of the Member’s Awards, Cape Town Tourism members who have excelled in key elements of the tourism industry, were also announced. In the Environmental Sustainability Award category, The Clay Cafe Hout Bay was named winner. Afrofest was recognised with the Social Impact Award and Marine Dynamics was named runner-up in that category. Lastly, in the Visitors Experience Award category, Marine Dynamics was named winner with Bikes ‘* Wines being named runner-up. Representing the City of Cape Town at the AGM was the city’s mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, including tourism, James Vos, who noted the City signing a new three-year agreement with Cape Town Tourism.

“Cape Town Tourism has done important work in delivering visitor services, tourism marketing, and special tourism projects on behalf of the city in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Going forward, they are going to be key as we, at the City of Cape Town implement the revised Tourism Development Framework which will see our tourism industry being key in facilitating sustainable job creation in a depressed economic climate.”