Published December 16, 2011
As the summer holiday season in the southern hemisphere opens, Cape Town’s tourism businesses are predicting a better business window for season 2011/2012. In a Cape Town Tourism membership poll tallied on December 8, 2011, a promising 57% of accommodation providers are expecting to have a better or much better remainder of the 2011/2012 summer season, when compared with 2010.
In a turbulent economic environment it is difficult to determine the season ahead. Increasingly, bookings are last minute and while global indicators (compiled by the UNWTO) suggest that tourism is in positive growth (+4% in 2011 globally), spend is lagging behind this growth – this reported by both the UNWTO and also locally by FEDHASA.
Cape Town Tourism’s survey reveales that the ongoing impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was anticipated by the accommodation sector with only 18.9% saying that the impact was more than they expected. However, in the tour operator sector, the impact was more than expected, as cited by 54.5% of respondents.
The poll also shows that, 54% and 54.5% of tour operators observed a year-on-year increase in their booking levels for October and November 2011, respectively. Some 45.5% of tour operator respondents expected to have a better remainder of the summer season 2011/12 compared to 2010, while 18.2% expected the same results and 27.3% expected to have a worse year based on forecasted occupancy levels.
The hard work being poured into developing new markets in the emerging economies has not yet reflected significantly in Cape Town’s arrival figures even though an increase of visitors from India and Brazil has been noted. Traditional key source markets such as the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands are still dominating the visitor scene, and this is mirrored in the results for the Western Cape by the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Barometer.
Statistics revealed by ACSA show that both the domestic and international arrivals figures are looking strong. A total of 632,319 international arrivals were recorded for 2010 (this includes World Cup visitors), whereas in 2011, and without figures for the month of December, 582,183 international arrivals have been tracked to date.
Similarly, 3,333,886 domestic arrivals were recorded at Cape Town International Airport in 2010, and figures (without December) for 2011 currently sit on 3,133,671.
What is clear is that accommodation occupancy levels do not mirror domestic arrivals, indicating that South African visitors are frequently staying with friends and relatives when on holiday or business in Cape Town.
Said Cape Town Tourism CEO, MariÃ«tte du Toit-Helmbold, “In this market, we continue to advise the industry to offer great value ‘ not reduced prices’ with an experience that leaves visitors feeling their money was well spent. Feedback from all our partners and members are that visitors are extremely price sensitive and are shopping around for the best value when booking accommodation, attractions, and tours. Now more than ever, visitors are using online tools like Tripadvisor to plot their stay. As the Tripadvisor users’ number one destination in 2011, Cape Town already has a place in the sun, but we need to be sure we maintain our level of exposure and favor.”
Other accolades like winning World Design Capital 2014 and the naming of Table Mountain as one of the New Natural 7 Wonders of the World, have brought further appeal.
“We have also not yet seen the rise of emerging economies reflected in Cape Town’s arrival figures, and traditional key source markets are still dominating, although this will take place over time with awareness, focused marketing, and special packages to Cape Town for these destinations. We may not see our global brand position translate into visitors this year, but the attention we sought in 2010 is being sustained and capitalized on during 2011,” Du Toit-Helmbold says.
Cllr. Grant Pascoe, MAYCO member for Tourism Events and Marketing, says,”The City of Cape Town believes that steadfast investment in its appointed destination marketing agencies throughout turbulent times eventually pays off for tourism businesses and the local economy. The positive results of the poll validate this conviction. Cape Town’s new destination marketing campaign was launched late this year both locally and internationally to an overwhelmingly positive response. We look forward to this campaign converting the world’s fascination with Cape Town into a tangible reality that brings a much-needed boost to the tourism sector and Cape Town’s economy in 2012.”