By Western Cape MEC of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier
Tourism Month 2021 marks the start of what will hopefully be a period of welcome relief for the tourism and hospitality sector, however the success of our summer season remains dependant on the opening of the economy in the Western Cape.
And so, with the decrease in Covid-19 infections and an exit from our third wave peak, together with the continued successful Covid-19 vaccination rollout in the province, it is critical that national government consider the easing of lockdown restrictions which are impacting on businesses in the Western Cape.
Where it is safe to do so, they must consider the easing of restrictions on the sale of alcohol, the curfew and the size of gatherings. They also need to consider increasing the capacity of large conferencing venues and the attendance of spectators at sporting events where those attending are fully vaccinated.
The tourism sector generated R15,5 billion in gross value add and supported 174 982 jobs in 2019 in the Western Cape. But the sector has been hard hit and, while the Western Cape maintains the lowest unemployment rate in South Africa, the tourism sector is estimated to have lost 75 477 jobs in 2020.
This is why reigniting tourism is important for jobs and the economy in the Western Cape.
We will continue to do everything we can to ensure the most successful summer season possible by tackling barriers to growth for the tourism and hospitality sector, increasing connectivity to the region and running our award-winning destination marketing campaigns that showcase the best that Cape Town and the Western Cape has to offer.
Last year saw a noticeable uptick in domestic arrivals post-winter and the first wave lockdown, and this year we expect a similar pattern as domestic airlines resume operations.
As restrictions ease on travel to and from South Africa, more international airlines are also scheduled to return to Cape Town International Airport. With key European source markets, such as Germany, France and The Netherlands now open to travel to South Africa we are optimistic that the summer season will be a much better season than last year.
We are already seeing evidence of this with Cape Town International Airport achieving a 21% passenger recovery rate for the first three weeks of August 2021, compared to the same period in 2019, while international airline capacity reached the 50% recovery mark for the first time since the resumption of international services in October 2020.
Our tourism and promotion agency, Wesgro, is already hard at work on our campaigns for the upcoming summer season with an international campaign running in Germany and the Netherlands and a domestic campaign planned for October.
During Tourism Month, I look forward to travelling across the province to launch several exciting new tourism products we have supported and showcasing many of our existing tourism offerings to remind travellers that the Western Cape is a world in one province, offering a diverse range of affordable experiences that are accessible to all.
Everyone can play a role in reigniting tourism in the Western Cape by supporting small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.
If you are looking for ideas for your next visit to Cape Town and the Western Cape, then visit our website where you can use one of our regional itineraries for inspiration: https://www.wesgro.co.za/travel/itinerary/weskus-itinerary-tourism-month