Cape Town Air Access aims to grow US, West Africa and South America direct route connectivity

2019-03-14 12:00 - Selene Brophy
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Opportunities exist for the Western Cape and South Africa overall, despite global economic headwinds that include rising US protectionism, the impact of Brexit and the risk of economic growth recessions amidst escalating geopolitical tensions and climate change. 

This is the sentiment coming from Wesgro during its annual Global Economic Priorities forum held on Wednesday, 13 March in Cape Town.

Speaking at the event Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris states, “Although we are faced with many risks and global  headwinds in the upcoming year, Cape Town and the Western Cape has the correct ingredients to move forward and turn risk into opportunity. Through the support of the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town and our private sector partners, we will  proactively work to land even more investment and film productions, as well as boost exports and tourism across the districts of the province and Cape Town - ensuring economic growth benefits all.” 

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According to Harris, the Cape Town Air Access (CTAA) project, aimed at improving connectivity to the Mother City, will be looking to develop three core hubs for future connectivity - these specifically being to the West Africa, US, and South America specifically. 

Forming the focal point for proactive international  air route development in Cape Town and the Western Cape, the initiative has already launched 13 new routes and facilitated 19 route expansions since their inception in 2015. This has doubled seat capacity at Cape Town  International Airport, adding 1.5 million two-way seats to the Cape Town  network, contributing and estimated R6 billion in direct tourism spend since July 2015. 

As a result the CTAA team is actively engaging with Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport and Nelson Mandela Bay to see how a similar model can be implemented to boost air connectivity to these provinces.

“The real success of the project is reflected in the international terminal passenger growth, with 16% growth recorded in 2016, 20% growth in 2017, and 9% growth for 2018 in two-way passengers. International air cargo has also seen phenomenal, recording 52% growth during 2017 due to the added belly-freight capacity. In addition to this, business class passenger numbers have experienced exceptional growth over the last few years with 15% growth in 2017, and 10% in 2018,” says Harris. 

Set  against the backdrop of the economic forecast for the upcoming year, Wesgro’s Heads’ of Department briefly outlined their plans to boost the local economy and facilitate job creation through tourism, trade, investment and film and media promotion. Details of  these plans can be viewed and downloaded here.

Some highlights noted included:

  • Tourism: The Cape Coalition - a strategic collaboration between government, academia, scientific institutions and the private sector to help convert more bids for the province through innovative funding  mechanisms and support programs - will be introduced in the upcoming year. In addition, the Cradle of Human Culture tourism routes - a partnership  between the Cradle of Humankind, DEDAT, DECAS and Wesgro -  will be launched in April 2019
  • Trade: With the support of the Western  Cape Government, a key focus for 2019 will be the establishment of a District  Unit that will look to drive even more investment  and film productions, as well as boost exports and tourism across the districts of the province, with halal export promotion and trade-in-services remaining key priorities.
  • Investment Promotion: The team  will work with the World Bank to ensure the Western Cape's investment promotion meets world standards, and is equipped to best assist investment into the region. The team will also ramp up investment missions in the coming year, increasing from 20 to over 30 over this period.
  • Film: with additional funding from the Western Cape Government, the film and media team is looking to grow the unit and therefore provide more capacity to land productions in the region. Monica Rorvik, the Head of the unit, indicated that the Creative Locations publication is the most downloaded industry document in the country. 

Minister  for Economic Opportunities, Beverly Schafer, reflected the general sentiment by stating, “We have built partnerships between public and private sector that  work. Our focus should be on growing the future economy now, embracing the 4th  Industrial Revolution & further positioning Cape Town & the Western Cape as the tech hub in Africa. Investments from global tech giants such as Amazon already shows confidence in this sector.”

“Our  main aim is to be the go-to city in Africa for business, investment, film,  trade and tourism,” says Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset  Management, Alderman James Vos.