Alan Winde, the Western Cape’s MEC for tourism and economic development, called for collaboration between all tourism players in the Province in order to ensure growth for the industry.
Minister Winde met the members of Mossel Bay Tourism earlier this week when he was in the town during the provincial premier’s ‘Better Together’ cycle tour.
The Western Cape’s government brought all its marketing bodies under one roof when Cape Town Routes Unlimited – which had previously marketed tourism in the Province – was incorporated with WESGRO on April 1. The Minister said that the way in which WESGRO will market tourism, and how it will interact with the individual towns’ destination marketing organisations, will be discussed at a province-wide meeting of tourism associations in July.
Speaking about the significance of the airlift, and the recent announcement by SAA that it will close its London Heathrow to Cape Town route in August, he said that the pipeline which feeds tourists into the Western Cape is too constrained to allow for significant growth of international tourism.
“The seats at the front of the aircraft – the business and first class seats – are the ones that make a flight profitable, and we’ve put forward a number of proposals that should increase business travel to the Cape.”
“But when I was in Washington, I found that there are more than 5,500 flights a week going from the USA to South America – but only 36 come from the USA to the whole of Africa.
“You can’t expect people to do business with this continent if they can’t get here quickly, or even at times that suit them.”
He said that he’s asked for a meeting with SAA to discuss its decision, but that the Provincial government is also talking to other airlines about how they can serve the Cape.
“I would also like to see a second airport in Cape Town – probably in the Atlantis corridor – that will serve the low cost and charter airlines, and I want the George Airport to get international status so that we can accommodate charter flights to this area.
“It’s wrong that you can go to the Indian Ocean islands for a week for about the same cost as a flight ticket to South Africa.”
Minister Winde said that he was very excited to learn about the QR Codes tour that Mossel Bay Tourism has created at the Dias Museum Complex. (The tour makes use of the smart phone’s ability to quickly access web pages, and, in the pilot phase, fifteen of the Complex’s most important exhibits have been labeled with the codes.)
“Using new technology like this is crucial to the sustainability of any destination.
“50% of the world’s population are under thirty years of age, and the majority of travellers have their smart phones and tablets with them when they travel.
“Also, a significant proportion of travellers use their mobile devices for buying flights, car hire, accommodation, and activities, and for sharing their travel experiences.
“So what we have to do is decide how we’re going to join the world-wide conversation about tourism, and how we can use social media to encourage visitors from abroad.”
Mossel Bay Tourism’s vice-chairperson, Ray Murray, said that the Minister’s visit was good news for Mossel Bay.
“Although the world’s economic conditions aren’t helping, a lot of people are still travelling, and it’s inspiring to know that the Cape’s provincial government is taking proactive steps to bring them to the hinterland.
“We’ve felt for some time that the Garden Route and Klein Karoo weren’t being effectively marketed by the provincial DMO – but now this is going to change, and for that we’re grateful to Minister Winde,” he said.
- Mossel Bay www.visitmosselbay.co.za