Western Cape tourism shows healthy growth

February arrivals at the Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) and George Airport, as well as visitor numbers at popular attractions throughout the Western Cape showed healthy growth compared to February last year, Cape Town Tourism said Thursday.

International arrivals at CTIA grew by 12.3% from 66 834 in February 2011 to 75 043 in February this year. Regional arrivals also went up by 22.3% from 4 812 to 5 884 over the same period. Domestic arrivals rose from 272 912 to 287 366, a yearly growth rate of 5.3%. At theGeorgeAirport, February arrivals were up 7.9 % from 21 788 in 2011 to 23 500 this year.

Western Cape Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Alan Winde said visitor numbers at Cape Town’s big six attractions, that is the V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, Table Mountain aerial cableway (TMAC), Constantia vineyards, Robben Island and Cape Point, were also up in February.

At the Waterfront, visitor numbers grew by 2.8% to 1.82-million. Numbers at the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens showed an increase of 8.2% to 61 081.

“We have had significant increases over several consecutive months now and are definitely looking at one of our best tourism summers ever,” Winde stated.

In February 2011, the TMAC attracted 77 222 visitors. This year, 5.2% more visitors visited TMAC, increasing numbers to 81 219.

“Obviously, the good summer weather and absence of strong winds were major contributors, but I would not discount the effect of the publicity generated by the vote forTableMountaincampaign. It is important that we build on these successes going into the future,” TMAC CEO Sabine Lehman said.

After recording an increase of 6% in January, visitor numbers toRobbenIslandgrew again in February, by 4.2%, to 33 321, up from last year February’s 31 989.

CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) Calvyn Gilfellan stated that the volume of visitors toCape Townand theWestern Capeconfirmed its status as one of the top destinations inAfrica.

Following a slight decrease in December, tourist numbers for theCangoCavesin Oudtshoorn went up 7.3%. Figures for De Hoop Nature Reserve outside Bredasdorp have shot up by 64.7%. AtAgulhasNational Park, visitor numbers increased by 22%.

However, minor decreases were experienced atWest CoastNational Park,WildernessNational ParkandTsitsikammaNational Park, but this was countered by increases at the Karoo andBontebokNational Parksof 5.6% and 19.7% respectively.TableMountainNational Parkrecorded a 9.6% increase in visitors from 212 631 to 232 970.

“Some of these declines can mainly be attributed to the fact that locals went back to school and work,” Gilfellan noted.

He added that most of the province’s iconic events take place between January and April and that these were significant catalysts in drawing visitors and added considerably to the provincial coffers.

Seven of the events namely the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (R95.9-million), the Absa Cape Epic (R199-million), the J&B Met (R39.9-million) the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour (R450-million), the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (R80-million), the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (R498.6-million) and the Wacky Wine Weekend in Robertson (R30-million) collectively attract 467 700 participants and spectators to the province and contribute R1.39-billion to the Western Cape’s economy every year.

Further, Gilfillen pointed out that the conference, meetings and incentive industry played a crucial role in fuelling this growth.

He said the CTRU’s convention bureau and its partners secured nine conferences in the past months, which was expected to make a combined contribution of R70-million to the province’s financial system.

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