Cape Town is a destination of choice even in winter

Robben Island, Cape Town. Robben Island, Cape Town.

According to data extracted from Cape Town Tourism’s monthly survey, Cape Town has continued to attract domestic, regional and international visitors during the winter season (April to August 2014.) Year-to-date numbers reveal that visitor arrivals from the region (Africa) are up by 7,1%, and international arrivals are up by 6,6% for this five-month period up to and including August.

Arrivals at Cape Town International Airport

The total number of all arrivals to Cape Town International Airport for April 2014 increased by 8,5%. This was influenced by a signature event synonymous with Cape Town – the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, which attracts about 26 000 local, domestic and international participants. This event and the Easter weekend (which traditionally sees an increase in domestic visitors) are collectively responsible for the spike in visitor numbers.

Cape Town International Airport reported its highest number of visitors (domestic, regional and international) for April at 366 205, while August saw 334 274 visitors. May 2014 was the only month in which total arrivals decreased – by 2,9% year-on-year, due to a decrease in domestic arrivals by 3,94%. 

In August, 284 437 domestic arrivals were recorded, which reflects year-on-year growth of 2,51%; while 42 841 international arrivals were recorded, which equates to 14,11% growth year-on-year.

"We are heartened by the steady stream of visitors to our shores during the winter months. While the weather tends to send locals indoors, it is heartening to see visitors making their way here to experience what the Mother City has to offer. The upward trend during winter affirms the city’s status as a year-round destination of choice, which is in line with our commitment to creating an opportunity city."

"The tourism sector plays a significant role in our local economy by creating sustainable employment for around 34 500 permanent and 15 000 temporary workers. According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report for (2013/14,) world travel and tourism have grown faster than the global economy, with a 4% rise in international travel for the same period," said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Councillor Garreth Bloor.

Cape Town’s accommodation sector

The monthly Accommodation Performance Review and Forecast Reports issued by Horwath HTL showed, unsurprisingly, that the highest occupancy level achieved was in April at 67,9%. In terms of Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar,) May was the only month in which a marginal decrease in occupancy figures was observed, ending 0,5% down year-on-year. 

The highest increase in RevPar observed was in August 2014, at 24,7% - a further indicator that the two months at the beginning and the end of the low season are seeing better numbers and a potential softening of the seasonal pattern. 

"According to STR Global’s South Africa Hotel Review Report, in terms of year-to-date performance up to and including August, Cape Town’s average occupancy rate is up 7,5% and the average room rate is up 11,5%. The best performing accommodation types over the winter season, measured in terms of occupancy figures, were backpackers and self-catering establishments. Interestingly, backpackers were frequented primarily by international visitors and self-catering establishments by domestic visitors. Geographically speaking, the city centre and southern suburbs led the pack as preferred places to stay," said Councillor Bloor.

Over the five-month period, domestic visitors made up 49% of the accommodation sector’s patrons on average; visitors from Africa accounted for 8% of visitors staying in formal accommodation; and international visitors made up the remaining 43%. 

Cape Town Tourism, in its market selection for 2014 to 2017, identified South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Nigeria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates as key tactical markets to address the issue of seasonality. The United States of America, Brazil, India and China will also be targeted as markets that have a propensity to travel in our winter months.

Key tourism attractions

The top five tourist attractions in Cape Town (Cape Point, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Robben Island, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway and the V&A Waterfront) all reported positive performance, with an encouraging increase in visitor numbers during the winter season.

The Robben Island Museum reported small decreases in visitor numbers for June and July 2014, which was influenced by the weather. However, the remainder of the winter season saw increases upwards of 35% year-on-year due to improved operations and greater availability of ferries.

Another success story of the winter season was the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which reported an average monthly increase of 75% in visitor numbers year-on-year for June to August. This increase is attributed to the treetop canopy walkway that opened in June, showing the important role of innovation and product rejuvenation in attracting visitors.

"Extending trade into winter is key to tourism growth and sustainability in Cape Town. If we can gradually reduce the shoulder of the lower traffic winter months, we will be able to plan and manage costs better. This is as much about our city making a concerted effort to create a remarkable winter offering as it is about individual tourism players believing that a Cape Town winter is well worth promoting," said the CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy.

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