Early indications are that our region is enjoying a bumper peak tourism period.
In partnership with Wesgro, I will table the official report for the province’s summer season at a media briefing later this month. Mid-season feedback reports suggest that all regions have experienced a growth in numbers. We have observed an increase in enquiries and reservations from the domestic market, regional markets (mainly Namibia and Zimbabwe), as well as our mainstay foreign markets including Germany, UK, China, India and USA. I am happy to report that the majority of wine estates and restaurants have been running at full capacity.
There are a number of exciting developments for our sector in the next few months. In March, the Silo hotel will open at the V&A Waterfront. The hotel is already featuring on international must-visit lists, including CNN’s Business Traveller’s “15 hot new hotels to check out in 2017”. New establishments like these speak to the business confidence hospitality industry investors have in the Western Cape. Last year, Marriott International, in partnership with Amdec, announced a R2bn investment to develop three new properties here. Later this year, Tsogo Sun will add 500 rooms to accommodation in Cape Town central when it opens a R680m hotel. The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has also invested significantly into our province. The group has launched the Radisson Red at the V&A Waterfront’s Silo District, and the Radisson Blu Hotel and Residence at the old Triangle House Building.
We know that tourism is our fastest-growing sector, employing over 200 000 people and generating R17bn for our economy each year.
Through our Project Khulisa growth strategy, we are seeking to add up to a further 100 000 jobs in this sector.
Through a dedicated Air Access team comprised of global aviation specialists, we are targeting the development and initiation of new direct routes from key strategic markets. Cape Town Air Access is a partnership between the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, Wesgro, Airports Company of South Africa and Cape Town Tourism.
To date, the team has secured six new routes and eight route expansions, resulting in over half a million more two-way direct seats coming into Cape Town. Since July last year, this additional capacity has generated roughly R3bn in additional tourism spend for the Western Cape.
To ensure we are responsive to market trends and demands, we are tapping into the power of big data. With Wesgro, we have launched a tourism data and real-time business intelligence dashboard which will provide us with the most recent trends and performance of the Western Cape tourism industry.
We are also making good progress in our plan to position the Western Cape as Africa’s cycling capital.
Our first cycle tourism route – the Cross Cape, which runs between Plettenberg Bay and Stellenbosch, will be launched in March this year.
As part of our drive to boost culture and heritage tourism, we have partnered with the City of Cape Town to establish a memorial statue of former President Nelson Mandela at the City Hall. This initiative forms part of our Madiba Legacy Route. It is set to be completed in the 2017/18 financial year.
It’s going to be another exciting year for Western Cape tourism, and I look forward to working with our partners to strengthen our position as one of the world’s most popular and on trend tourism destinations.