Cape Town’s tourism numbers exceed pre-pandemic levels as visitors stream in from abroad
Between January and April 2023, Cape Town International Airport saw a sharp recovery in international arrivals, with UK passenger arrivals up 104% on April 2019, the Netherlands up 116%, and the US up sharply to 155%
The Western Cape’s skies are not only almost 70% busier than last year, but international arrivals at Cape Town International Airport are already exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 106%.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Some good news — SA tourism sector a shining light when days are dark
Last year, international arrivals at the popular airport injected R24-billion into the Western Cape economy.
The provincial government’s trade, investment and tourism promotion agency, Wesgro, says in a monthly tourism update that tourism figures show two-way international passenger arrivals were strongly up between January and July this year, reaching 1.6 million – an increase of 69% compared with the same period last year – according to the latest data from Airports Company South Africa.
Visitor numbers to local attractions are also up to a record level, and local travel is up sharply, with 3.8 million domestic two-way passengers passing through Cape Town International Airport in the first half of the year.
George Airport’s two-way passengers reached 449,837 between January and July, a 3% year-on-year increase compared with the same period in 2022.
The Garden Route airport is about to get busier than ever, with the announcement that FlySafair will be resuming its Cape Town-George route on Friday 8 September, with three flights a week between the cities.
Between January and April, Cape Town International Airport saw a sharp recovery in international arrivals, with UK air passenger arrivals up 104% on April 2019, the Netherlands up 116%, and the US up sharply to 155%.
Wesgro says the 21 most popular tourist attractions across the six regions of the Western Cape saw 469,854 visitors in July 2023, which is 40% up on last July.
The top five highest year-on-year growth rates in July were recorded for Boulders (68%), !Khwa ttu (51%), Cape Point (50%), Table Mountain National Park (50%) and Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (48%).
On Friday, the province marked the start of Tourism Month, which Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC Mireille Wenger said was an opportunity to recognise the contribution the tourism and hospitality sector makes to both the Western Cape’s economy and job creation.
“The data in this month’s report points to an impressive winter season. This then bodes very well for our upcoming peak summer season, when we can look forward to possibly surpassing the previous summer.”
Wesgro’s data shows that last year, the arrival of 605,000 foreign passengers injected R24.3-billion into the provincial economy, which supported 10,600 jobs.
For every 100 international passengers travelling to Cape Town and the Western Cape, R2.1-million is generated in direct tourism spend, and R1.4-million worth of air cargo.
The top five source markets are the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands and Namibia.
During the Tourism Month event at Cape Town International Airport, Mayco Member for Economic Growth, James Vos, unveiled the City of Cape Town’s new campaign – “Choose Cape Town” – which will be targeting São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro ahead of the new SAA route starting next month.
One hundred and forty-five international flights arrive at Cape Town International Airport every week. This is expected to ramp up to 200 international flights later this year. Twenty-four international airlines currently fly into the city.
The Cruise Cape Town initiative for ocean-bound tourism has seen 70 ships docking in the city’s harbour this past cruise season, which brought over 145,000 passengers and 42,000 through the Cruise Terminal.
For the upcoming season, 59 ships are already booked to visit. It is estimated that around R100-million is spent per port.
The Cape Town International Convention Centre – jointly owned by the City of Cape Town, the provincial government and SunWest International – hosted 427 events between July 2022 and June this year, attended by 274,880 guests. DM