Friday, January 21

Time to change the face of Cape Town tourism

The city of Cape Town says it wants to change the perception that tourism in the city is limited to the main attractions of the city and seeks to encourage visitors and locals to explore the hidden gems of the city.

The 20 months of the Covid-19 pandemic have been a great blow to the country’s tourism sector. The Covid-19 induced lockdown restrictions have imposed severe limitations on commerce for many in the hospitality and entertainment industry.

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“There was a great perception before the Covid-19 pandemic that tourism was only for travelers, but what the pandemic has taught us is that we need communities and locals to support their local tourism industry,” mayor committee member for the economic growth of the city. from Cape Town, Councilor James Vos tells Moneyweb.

The Mother City, historically considered a destination of choice for international tourists, has been particularly affected by several Covid-19-related travel bans that have kept international tourists and their purchasing power at bay.


Loss of income

The city says that tourism agencies, this holiday season alone, have seen cancellations in December worth R237 million.

In addition, the city noted that the news of the Omicron Covid-19 variant has caused its tourism industry to lose around R225 million per day.

By counting flight and accommodation cancellations, the city says it expects to lose another 200 million rand a day heading into the new year.

“The newly discovered variant and subsequent reinstatement of South Africa on the UK red list, as well as multiple travel bans from other countries, will and have already affected our tourism economy,” said Vos.

Read: Europe shuts down to South Africa for fear of a new strain of virus

“We were heading into what should have been our peak tourism season and this recent announcement is heartbreaking as we looked forward to shifting our efforts from tourism recovery to tourism readiness,” he added.

A change of strategy

In light of international travel bans keeping the city’s regular tourist market out for the second consecutive peak holiday season in December, the city has partnered with Cape Town tourism to launch the Pocket Campaign aimed at Aim to get locals to explore parts of the city on a budget.

“With this campaign, our goal is to inspire South Africans and locals to leave their home in Cape Town, no matter how much or how little they have to spend,” said Vos.

“Pocket-friendly guides highlight good-value experiences that people may not know about, encouraging locals to visit, and in doing so, boosting the local tourism industry,” he noted.

The city says that through its campaigns it hopes to convince people to explore their communities and other neighboring areas.

“We desperately need to restart our tourism engines as there are so many lives directly and indirectly affected by tourism,” said Vos.

“The economy of visitors is everyone’s business, regardless of whether it is local or international, and that is why we encourage others to not only invest in their own communities, but also to be tourists in their own cities,” he added.

When asked if there is an appetite among locals to travel to the city, Vos cited the results of Cape Town Tourism’s recent travel survey which found that 67% of the 1,728 respondents intended to travel nationally in December, and 19% of them planned to travel. to the Western Cape.

However, there does not appear to be a clear indication as to whether this trip will create substantial value for the province as it must be considered that for many South Africans this time of year requires seasonal migration to visit family and friends in various parts of the country. .

Changing the face of ‘ekasi’ tourism

Boosting Cape Town’s goals of propping up local tourism, the official opening of Khayelitsha’s first luxury hotel has raised the bar for what one can expect from what is called ‘ekasi’ tourism.

The Spade Boutique Hotel and Spa, located in Khayelitsha’s Mandela Park, promises to be the city’s first four-star hotel in the township.

The property, owned by former flight attendant Annette Skaap, whose husband Bulelani Skaap owns the entertainment brand ‘KwaAce’, aims to change the face of municipal tourism and give it an affordable luxury facelift.

Marketing and PR manager Shorn Khumalo told Moneyweb that the hotel aims to show people the other side of Cape Town.

“Most of [time] in Cape Town what they sell you is the destination, they sell you Camps Bay… That’s why we said we wanted people to experience the other side of Cape Town and beyond the city, ”said Khumalo.

“The location itself is going to change the way people view Khayelitsha.

“If we can offer you [tourists] World class service in Khayelitsha and we give them a hotel in Khayelitsha, they experience something they have never experienced before. ”

Khumalo said that the pandemic has not only allowed for a focus on local tourism, but has also asked locals to reflect on their understanding of how tourism has historically looked in the city and how it should change in the future to guarantee growth and more. integration.

“We talk about diversity and all that, but diversity is not me leaving Khayelitsha and going to the city to meet black people,” he said.

“Maybe it’s time for you to leave your comfort zone and come learn something different and how people live on the other side of Cape Town,” Khumalo said.

But how long will it last?

Boosting local tourism in efforts to preserve the city’s tourism sector and its businesses provides a much-needed life preserver for business, but considering the South African holiday season and the travel patterns of the locals, this life preserver will not exist for forever.

Wesgro CEO Wrenelle Stander told Moneyweb that this lifeline could run out by the end of January 2022 and that the province will have to go back to looking for international tourists.

“Domestic leisure tourism is largely seasonal, focused on school holidays and long weekends,” he said.

“While the province is very well supported by domestic tourism for most of December and in January, once the summer holidays are over, we traditionally look to our international and regional markets to generate income for the tourism industry,” Stander pointed out.

However, he is confident that the contributions already made by local travelers this holiday season will contribute significantly to the recovery of the Western Cape tourism industry.

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