Western Cape Tourism on 2015/16 peak tourism season

Scores of domestic and international visitors are set to arrive in the Western Cape this week.

In this edition of Minister Alan Winde’s monthly Economic Update. the province’s tourism sector shared their first impressions of the peak season.

Highlights include:

Establishments and attractions reporting record breaking increases in October and November.

Slump in visitor numbers was observed prior to the revision of the visa regulations.

A combination of the weak rand and visa regulation concessions are predicted to result in a record-breaking peak 2015/16 season.

We have officially entered our peak tourism season and I’d like to welcome all visitors to our province. I have received positive reports from the Western Cape’s leading tourism players, and all indications point to a phenomenal season for our sector.

Rob Kucera, FEDHASA Cape Chair and Westin General Manager, said October and November were among the best months the hospitality industry has experienced.

At the Westin, they had a spectacular October, earning the highest revenue in the establishment’s history. Kucera has cited the weak rand and the visa revisions as two of the key factors for the increase in visitors.

The Table Mountain Cableway recorded a year-on-year increase in October and November, posting a 15% increase on their previous November record.

Kirstenbosch Gardens has seen a major increase in its numbers, following the introduction of the Boomslang last year. More than 500 000 people have already visited the attraction in this financial year. They’re also posting an increase in revenue, having already taken over R15 million in gate income in this financial year. Their success once again illustrates the boost that innovation can bring, even for our most established attractions.

Cape Point reported a 14.6% year-on-year increase at the gate and 13.7% increase at the funicular in November.

Groot Constantia, which usually attracts around 350 000 visitors per year, is on track to log their highest numbers this season.

Many establishments were seeing year-on-year decreases prior to the revision of the visa regulations, and we’re pleased that the National Government heeded concerns before the traditional peak season. In a major win, it will no longer be mandatory for travellers from visa exempt countries to present unabridged birth certificates. Particularly encouraging is the acceptance of applications by post and the conducting of biometric fingerprinting on arrival for countries in which no SA missions exist.

As a major tourist destination, we are pleased that Cape Town Airport is one of the first pilot sites for this initiative.It is our hope that biometrics on arrival will eventually apply to all countries.

We also welcome a commitment to increase Visa Facilitation Service Centres in our key emerging markets, including China, India, Africa and the Middle East.

Accredited travel agents will also be granted the right to deal with visa applications from tourists in some of our BRICS partner countries.

With these revisions in place, we now can now work towards reversing the downward trends we’ve seen since last May.

I wish you all a great festive season. Safe Travels!