Cape Town - The Western Cape's vast tourism offering continues to boost the country's economy and create thousands of jobs, while providing local and international visitors with unique escapes in one of the world's favourite destinations.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde provided an update on Thursday 27 July, on the province’s targeted strategy to grow the sector, known as Project Khulisa.
While the mid-term report-back on the Western Cape’s tourism sector found significant increases in arrivals, revenue and airline seats with the province seeing marked growth on foreign tourism spend and job creation - a number of factors pose a risk to the future growth of the industry including the drought currently affecting the province.
"More than 20 000 jobs have been added and foreign tourist spend increased by R4billion in the past three years," says Winde, about job gains and economic growth in the Western Cape’s tourism sector.
ALSO SEE: #WeDoTourism: SA's Tourism Month launches with aim to grow economy
Research comparing figures from 2014 and 2016 show that international arrivals have grown by 182 257 visitors, foreign tourist spend has increased by R3.6bn and there has been a growth of 533 000 domestic tourist trips taken.
While the province welcomes an increase of tourists, Winde adds that it is extremely vital for the tourism sector to continue raising awareness around the Western Cape’s water shortage.
SEE: WATCH: This is why Cape Town has upped its water restrictions to Level 4b
“Research has found that in developing countries, tourists use between three and eight times more water than residents. We know that water is key for economic growth, and central to many tourism experiences. This is why we need the tourism sector to partner with us to conserve water,” with Winde encouraging the tourism sector to sign the Western Cape Government’s draft Economic Sector Water Security Declaration.
'Tourism can help SA course correct its economic trajectory'
Top international markets for arrivals to the Western Cape include Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, total international airline seats have increased by 613 000 and the number of jobs created has risen to 26 618, while the Gross Value Add (an indicator of all the goods and services produced by a sector) has increased by R4.4bn since 2014.
Winde says, "We are especially encouraged that the tourism sector has managed to achieve these successes despite troubling economic times for our country. We believe that the tourism sector, which is not rand hedged, has the potential to pull us out of recession, and to save and grow jobs. Tourism can help South Africa to course correct its current economic trajectory."
“I am pleased to announce that we’ve added 26 000 jobs to the tourism sector, taking us closer to our goal of adding up to 100 000 jobs to the sector by 2019," says Winde.
ALSO SEE: We Are Africa: Wesgro launches new luxury tourism offering
"In line with our objective to position the province as a business destination, we have increased the value of conference bids secured from R280m in 2014, to R425m in the 2016/17 financial year," says Winde.
He adds that there's a "a whole new dynamic to conferencing" by looking at alternative spaces such as "wine farms or sheds" to boost conferencing opportunities.
Further to the international tourism boost, he says that "This year alone, we’ve added over 400 000 new two-way international airline seats to make it easier for visitors to reach us, bringing our new seat total to 2.6 million.
"Improved air access played a role in our increased tourism numbers. In 2016, international tourists spent R18bn here, up from R14bn in 2014."
SEE: Direct flight between US and Cape Town on the cards - Wesgro
Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro says "the relationship with SAT has been stronger", with its new CEO, Sisa Ntshona having "a real impact" which has "matched a strong performance in tourism in the Western Cape".
Key figures from SAT’s report include:
- In 2016, 1.5 million international tourists travelled to the province, a year-on-year increase of 18.5%
- Foreign tourist spend grew by 21.6%, increasing to R18.1 billion
- Domestic tourism arrivals reached 2.1 million, up 16.9% year-on-year
- Domestic tourists spent R2.5 billion, a 24.3% increase from the previous year
After looking at SA Tourism's figures, Harris confirms that the Western Cape is the number one holiday destination in the country, and scored first place for "paid for beds", "length of stay" and for "first time travellers".
(Supplied by Wesgro).
"Project Khulisa, which means 'cause to grow' in isiXhosa, is a targeted action plan to accelerate growth and jobs in the province’s most competitive sectors, which includes tourism," says Winde.
Since its launch in 2014, Project Khulisa looks at developing and implementing an Africa and Gulf Co-operation Council countries growth strategy, securing more air routes and lobbying for friendlier visa regulations, among other goals.
SEE: Wesgro: Cape events boost SA economy by R374m
Minister Winde explains that the original Project Khulisa baseline had been revised, with more detailed, localised research completed by the team "to assess the worth of the tourism sector at a regional level".
“Our original baseline relied on national figures, aggregated to provincial level. We've now fully developed a social accounting matrix for the province, which gives more accurate regional stats," he says.
Boosting business confidence index
Winde says the tourism sector had boosted the Western Cape’s business confidence index. “An analysis by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism shows how tourism infrastructure projects, such as Marriot International’s R3 bn investment, creates additional jobs in the construction sector."
"This means more residents have more income to spend in retail, which in turn means local businesses have higher revenue and more confidence in the economy," he says.
Harris adds that “The tourism industry has been a critical catalyst for economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape. As champions of Project Khulisa, Wesgro has worked with stakeholders in the tourism industry across the province to create and promote new opportunities."
(Supplied by Wesgro).
"Through innovative approaches to leisure and business tourism promotion, we have helped minimise the effects of various industry challenges, such as seasonality, keeping the Cape at the forefront of South Africa's tourism industry. We have a number of events lined up for the rest of this year and we are working towards another record-breaking year," says Harris.
“The Western Cape tourism sector delivers world-class service, and this is why we continue to attract visitors. I would like to thank the people who work in tourism. They are at the frontline of this valuable sector, and it is through their hard work that we have been able to achieve this excellent growth,” says Winde.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- We Are Africa: Wesgro launches new luxury tourism offering
- #WeDoTourism: SA's Tourism Month launches with aim to grow economy
- New partnership to put Cape Halaal tourism on the map