Billions to pour into economy of a ‘summer ready’ Cape

All indications are that the Western Cape is set for a bumper summer season, but are we ready?

The numbers are in! 191 flights per week, 75 ship calls this season, plus the billions both have the potential to generate for the Western Cape economy this summer season.

The recovery is behind us; now it’s time to grow, says Monika Iuel, Wesgro Chief Destination Marketing Officer, who shared that Cape Town’s estimated international two-way capacity will exceed 2019/2020 levels by February.

Inbound markets to the Western Cape that are predominantly leisure-oriented like Germany and the UK had recovered better than they had nationally, she added. Added to this hotel occupancies were looking healthy and ADR had fully recovered.

According to ForwardKeys data, the Western Cape is reporting three times greater booking levels than 2021 levels, with over 75% of the bookings from Northern and Western Europe and North America. “The UK, USA, Germany and the Netherlands account for 50% of all bookings.”

Cruising in full swing

Five new cruise ships have been added to the schedule, with 75 ships arriving in port this season, said Sune Cornelius, Wesgro Cruise Business Development Manager. Of these, she explained, 41 are turnarounds, i.e. when passengers depart the ship and another set embarks, which bodes well for pre- and post-travel opportunities in the Western Cape.

According to Cornelius, 13 of these are luxury and expedition ships whose passengers spend upwards of about R18k per day per passenger during their visit.

“For the next cruise season, there will be 120 ship calls, seven of which will be new to our shores. We are working with 16 cruise lines to develop itineraries to incorporate the Western Cape,” she says.

Learn from the north

Calling on stakeholders to learn from their Northern Hemisphere counterparts, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, encouraged the industry to take steps now to ensure they’re ready to welcome the impending demand.

To that end, she outlined what the Western Cape Government was doing in the areas of:

  • Accessibility: Motivating for the expansion of the eVisa regime, establishing a remote working visa and reducing the length of time it takes to issue business visas.
  • Skills: Addressing the critical skills shortages through skills programmes and asking industry where the skills gaps exist so that these are adequately filled.
  • Destination management and marketing: ramping up efforts to keep travellers safe through the DEDAT’s Tourism Safety and Support programme, as well as addressing the root causes of the crime. To that end, among the initiatives being rolled out are, a CCTV programme for the CBD district, along with additional law enforcement officers deployed 24/7, 365.

The golden thread to a proactive approach to dealing with the summer peak, she said, was partnership and collaboration. “Our success will be dependent on our ability to find and implement solutions together. This dialogue is aimed at defining what success could look like so we can work hard collectively to remove any barriers.”

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